Journal Articles

The relationship between functional health literacy, health-related behaviours and sociodemographic characteristics of streetinvolved youth in Ghana

Health literacy offers an opportunity to effectively direct health information and services to poor and marginalized groups. However, minimal attempts have been made to understand the state and determinants of health literacy, and its association with health-related behaviors among street-involved youth (SIY). This paper explores the status and sociodemographic correlates of functional health literacy (FHL) among SIY in Kumasi in Ghana. It also assesses the relationship between FHL, sociodemographic factors and two of the commonest health-related behaviours— alcohol use and smoking—among SIY. The study purposively sampled 337 SIY, aged 12 to 24 years, from five suburbs in the central business district of Kumasi Metropolitan Area in Ghana. The mean age of participants was 18 years (± 3.3). About 48%, 37% and 15% of them had inadequate, problematic and sufficient FHL respectively. Approximately 37% consumed alcohol and 14% smoked. Sex (female) and ethnicity (Ewe) were associated with inadequate FHL. Also, having some education and having been involved with the streets for three years or more were associated with inadequate FHL. Furthermore, being older, having some education, ethnicity, traditional religious affiliation, being male, having health insurance and inadequate FHL were associated with alcohol use. Smoking was associated with age (being older) and having been involved with the streets for three years or more. The paper argues that relevant health interventions must compensate for the heterogeneity of SIY as regards their FHL and sociodemographic characteristics to curb deleterious health behaviors.

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