Objectives: To explore the association between health literacy and levels of three types of core activities among health promotion volunteers (developing a healthy lifestyle, outreach to family, and outreach to community members). Study Design: A cross-sectional, anonymous, self-administered postal survey of registered health promotion volunteers in the Konan area in Shiga Prefecture in Japan, conducted in January 2010. The study sample was 575 registered health promotion volunteers. Methods: The survey collected data on health literacy, gender, age, education, self-rated health, perceptions about the volunteer organization, and perceptions of recognition in the community. The level of engagement in health promotion activities was measured by the extent to which the participants engaged in seven healthy behaviors and promoted them to family members and the community. The authors compared the health literacy level and other characteristics of the participants by core health promotion activities, using a chi-squared test, to examine the associations between demographic and other variables and the three core activities (healthy lifestyle, outreach to family, and outreach to community).Logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the association between the degree to which the volunteers engaged in core activities ("healthy lifestyle," "outreach to family," "outreach to community") and the levels of health literacy (low, medium, high) among health promotion volunteers, controlling for the effects of age, gender, health condition, education which may also have an impact on volunteers' outreach activities. Results: Four hundred and fifty-four questionnaires were returned, a 79.0% response rate. Excluding 16 cases with missing values on health literacy or the degree of health promotion activities, 438 research subjects were included in the analysis (valid response rate: 76.2%). Health literacy and a few demographic and other characteristics of the volunteers were associated with the three core health promotion activities. In bivariate analyses, active participation in the core activities was more prevalent among older volunteers (p<0.001 for all three activities). Self-rated health condition was associated with both outreach to family (p = 0.018) and community (p = 0.046). Years of experience as volunteer and perception of being recognized in the community also had statistically significant association with outreach to the community (p<0.001). In multiple logistic regression, those with higher level of health literacy were more likely than others to actively engage in outreach to family (OR = 1.70, 95% CI 1.03 to 2.80; OR = 1.76, 95%CI 1.04 to 3.00 for medium and high, respectively) and outreach to community (OR = 2.26, 95%CI 1.34 to 3.83; OR = 2.61 95%CI 1.49 to 4.58 for medium and high, respectively). Perception of being recognized in the community also had a statistically significant and positive impact on outreach to the community (OR = 1.52, 95%CI 1.17 to 1.99). Conclusions: Volunteers with higher health literacy were more likely to actively engage in outreach to family and outreach to community. Providing educational programs to improve volunteers' health literacy may facilitate their work.
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