Association of functional health literacy and cognitive ability with self-reported diabetes in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing: a prospective cohort study

Chloe Fawns-Ritchie (Lead / Corresponding author), Jackie Price, Ian J. Deary

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objectives: We investigated whether functional health literacy and cognitive ability were associated with self-reported diabetes. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Data were from waves 2 (2004-2005) to 7 (2014-2015) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a cohort study designed to be representative of adults aged 50 years and older living in England.

Participants: 8669 ELSA participants (mean age=66.7, SD=9.7) who completed a brief functional health literacy test assessing health-related reading comprehension, and 4 cognitive tests assessing declarative memory, processing speed and executive function at wave 2.

Primary outcome measure: Self-reported doctor diagnosis of diabetes. Results: Logistic regression was used to examine cross-sectional (wave 2) associations of functional health literacy and cognitive ability with diabetes status. Adequate (compared with limited) functional health literacy (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.61 to 0.84) and higher cognitive ability (OR per 1 SD=0.73, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.80) were associated with lower odds of self-reporting diabetes at wave 2. Cox regression was used to test the associations of functional health literacy and cognitive ability measured at wave 2 with self-reporting diabetes over a median of 9.5 years follow-up (n=6961). Adequate functional health literacy (HR 0.64; 95% CI 0.53 to 0.77) and higher cognitive ability (HR 0.77, 95% CI 0.69 to 0.85) at wave 2 were associated with lower risk of self-reporting diabetes during follow-up. When both functional health literacy and cognitive ability were added to the same model, these associations were slightly attenuated. Additionally adjusting for health behaviours and body mass index fully attenuated cross-sectional associations between functional health literacy and cognitive ability with diabetes status, and partly attenuated associations between functional health literacy and cognitive ability with self-reporting diabetes during follow-up.

Conclusions: Adequate functional health literacy and better cognitive ability were independently associated with lower likelihood of reporting diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere058496
Number of pages12
JournalBMJ Open
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Diabetes & endocrinology
  • EPIDEMIOLOGY
  • General diabetes
  • PUBLIC HEALTH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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