Examining the Association Between Health Literacy and Medication Adherence Among Older Adults

Tilicia L. Mayo-Gamble, Charles Mouton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Health literacy plays a vital role in patients’ understanding of their prescribed medication instructions. To inform strategies to assist providers in communicating in a manner that is easily understood by patients, it would be beneficial to determine the relationship between health literacy and the day-to-day aspects of medication adherence. This study identified: 1) differences of health literacy levels in medication adherence; 2) the association between health literacy and medication adherence; and 3) and factors associated with medication adherence score. A convenience sample of older predominantly African-American patients (N = 389), over the age of 60, completed a cross-sectional survey. Chi-square analysis assessed health literacy differences in five aspects of medication adherence. Ordinary linear regression analysis determined factors associated with medication adherence score. Patients with limited health literacy were more likely to forget to take their medications and more likely to take less medication than instructed than patients with adequate health literacy (χ2(5) = 15.91, p =.007, χ2(5) = 10.31, p =.036, respectively). REALM score was also significantly associated with medication adherence score (β=.016, p <.001, β =.009, p =.033), respectively). Findings suggest that providers seeking to improve medication adherence in older adults, particularly African-American patients, should focus communication on assessing health literacy levels prior to discussing medication instructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1124-1130
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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