Background. This paper details the role of different dimensions of health literacy in the relationship between health literacy and cancer-related health behaviours. In particular, Cancer Literacy is studied as an exemplar of a dimension of health literacy beyond basic reading and writing skills. The link between functional health literacy, Cancer Literacy and cancer-related health behaviours is investigated in a sample of Ticino (Switzerland) residents (n=639).
Design and methods. Detailed data is collected about respondents’ functional health literacy, Cancer Literacy, cancer information seeking behaviour, engagement in cancer preventive behaviours, participation to cancer screenings, and intention to adhere to current screening recommendations.
Results. Results confirm the added value of Cancer Literacy – compared to functional health literacy – in explaining people’s cancer information seeking behaviour, their participation to several cancer screenings and their screening intention, underscoring the need to take into account dimensions of health literacy beyond basic functional skills.
Conclusions. From a public health perspective, findings provide further evidence on the importance of adapting informational and educational communication intervention designed to improve cancer prevention and screening to different audiences.
health literacy, cancer, health information, health behaviour