Health Literacy and the Construction of Health and Disease from the Perspective of Older People With Intellectual Disabilities

Cornelia Geukes


Health literacy refers to the relationships between health information and its appraising as well as its application to health-related decisions. To ensure that older people with intellectual disabilities be able to make self-determined decisions that are positive for their own health, findings from this group with regard to health literacy are urgently needed. Older people with intellectual disabilities have not been included in discussions concerning the conceptualization of health literacy. The purpose of this study was to explore the importance of the health literacy-concept for older people with intellectual disabilities and their everyday health-related lives. Thirty-one qualitative phase-dynamic interviews were conducted with persons with an intellectual disability of over 50 years (50-81years) and were analyzed with the integrative basic procedure according to KRUSE (2014). Three categories were identified for everyday health: concepts of health and disease, determinants of health and disease, and health-related meaning and relevance structures. The results show that older people with intellectual disabilities have developed specific ideas about health and disease. For further research and concept development, it is essential to incorporate these insights into the health literacy- concept, focusing in particular on the determinants of each stage of health and integrating relevant aspects of the lives of older people with intellectual disabilities.


health-related information; health literacy; health care; integrated basic method; user perspective; qualitative phase-dynamic interviews; everyday life


Copyright (c) 2019 Cornelia Geukes

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