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Revista médica de Chile

versión impresa ISSN 0034-9887


RUSSO, Moisés. An exploratory study of functional literacy on health care behaviors in Chile. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2015, vol.143, n.7, pp.856-863. ISSN 0034-9887.

Background: Health Literacy is the set of skills that constitute the ability to perform reading and numerical tasks to function in the health care environment. People with functional illiteracy are unable to understand written documents and therefore sanitary information. Aim: To explore the effects of functional illiteracy on personal health care behaviors in Chile. Material and Methods: Using the Chilean Social Characterization Survey of 2006, respondents were separated into those that had read a book in the last year and those that had not as a proxy variable for functional literacy. Using econometric models, the impact of this variable on having a Papanicolaou (PAP) smear done and consulting in primary health clinics rather than in emergency services, was explored. Results: The survey is nationally representative, and 76% interviewees declared not having read a book in the last year. Probability of having a PAP smear done during the last three years was higher among women who had read a book with an OR of 1.19 (1.15-1.25). Likewise, the probability of consulting in emergency services rather than in primary health clinics was lower among those who had read a book with an OR of 0.85 (0.80-0.91). Conclusions: This study provides evidence of possible impacts of low functional literacy in health care behaviors in the Chilean population.

Palabras clave : Chile; Health Literacy; Health Services Misuse; Papanicolaou Test.

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