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Poor health and refraining from seeking healthcare are associated with comprehensive health literacy among refugees: a Swedish cross-sectional study

Journal article
Authors Josefin Wångdahl
Per Lytsy
Lena Mårtensson
Ragnar Westerling
Published in International Journal of Public Health
Volume 63
Issue 3
Pages 409-419
ISSN 1661-8556
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Pages 409-419
Language en
Keywords General health, Health literacy, Healthcare, Psychological well-being, Refrained from seeking healthcare, Refugees
Subject categories Health Sciences


Objectives: The objectives of the study were to explore the distributions of comprehensive health literacy (CHL), general health, psychological well-being, and having refrained from seeking healthcare among refugees in Sweden. Further objectives were to examine associations between CHL and the above-mentioned factors. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 513 refugees speaking Arabic, Dari, and Somali. Participants in the civic orientation course in Sweden responded to a questionnaire. CHL was measured using the HLS-EU-Q16 questionnaire. Uni- and multivariate logistic regression was used to investigate potential associations. Results: The majority of the respondents had limited CHL, and about four of ten had reported poor health and/or having refrained from seeking healthcare. Limited CHL was associated with having reported poor health and having refrained from seeking healthcare. Conclusions: A considerable proportion of the refugees in Sweden have limited CHL, and report less than good health and impaired well-being, or that they have refrained from seeking healthcare. Furthermore, CHL is associated with the above-mentioned factors. Efforts are needed to promote refugees’ CHL, optimal health-seeking behavior, and health.

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