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Coronavirus-Related Health Literacy in Germany: A Cross-Sectional Study in Adults During the COVID-19 Infodemic

21 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2020

See all articles by Orkan Okan

Orkan Okan

Bielefeld University - Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research

Torsten Michael Bollweg

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University

Eva-Maria Berens

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University

Klaus Hurrelmann

Public Health and Education, Hertie School

Ullrich Bauer

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University

Doris Schaeffer

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, School of Public Health, Bielefeld University

More...

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is surrounded by an infodemic – an overabundance of valid and invalid health information. Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, appraise and apply health information, making it crucial for navigating coronavirus and COVID-19 information environments. The aim of this cross-sectional study is to investigate health literacy in relation to coronavirus and the associated infodemic.

Methods: A cross sectional representative study of participants ≥16 years in Germany was conducted using an online survey. A coronavirus-related health literacy measure was developed (HLS-COVID-Q22). Reliability and validity were evaluated by applying internal consistency and confirmatory factor analyses. Health literacy data was analysed using descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations.

Findings: Internal consistency for the HLS-COVID-Q22 was very high (α = ·940; ρ = ·891). 50·1% of our sample had “problematic” (15·2%) or “inadequate” (34·9%) health literacy and 49·9% had sufficient health literacy. The participants felt well informed about coronavirus but 47·8% reported having difficulties judging whether they could trust media information on COVID-19. Confusion about coronavirus information was significantly higher among those who had lower health literacy.

Interpretation: HLS-COVID-Q22 is a feasible tool for assessing coronavirus-related health literacy in population surveys. While the overall level of health literacy is high, a vast number of participants report difficulties dealing with coronavirus information. This calls for targeted public information campaigns and promotion of population-based health literacy for better navigation of the infodemic, identification of disinformation, and decision-making based on reliable and trustworthy information.

Funding: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Orkan Okan and Torsten Michael Bollweg received funding (01EL1824A; grant holder Ullrich Bauer) from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research: Health Literacy in Childhood and Adolescence (HLCA) for this work.

Declaration of Interests: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval Statement: This study was approved by the Bielefeld University Ethics Board (Reference No 2020-060_S). All personal data obtained was anonymized by Allensbach, and Bielefeld University study group received a fully anonymized. Data protection procedures were covered in adherence with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU) (GDPR).

Keywords: health literacy; infodemic, survey; coronavirus 2; SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; Germany; adult population; HLS-EU-Q

Suggested Citation

Okan, Orkan and Michael Bollweg, Torsten and Berens, Eva-Maria and Hurrelmann, Klaus and Bauer, Ullrich and Schaeffer, Doris, Coronavirus-Related Health Literacy in Germany: A Cross-Sectional Study in Adults During the COVID-19 Infodemic (6/16/2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3631299 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3631299

Orkan Okan (Contact Author)

Bielefeld University - Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research ( email )

Germany

Torsten Michael Bollweg

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University ( email )

Eva-Maria Berens

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University ( email )

Klaus Hurrelmann

Public Health and Education, Hertie School ( email )

Ullrich Bauer

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University ( email )

Doris Schaeffer

Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research, School of Public Health, Bielefeld University ( email )

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