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Health Literacy and Health-Promoting Behaviors among Multiethnic Groups of Women in Taiwan


  • Hsiu-Min Tsai,

  • Ching-Yu Cheng,

  • Shu-Chen Chang,

  • Yung-Mei Yang,

  • Hsiu-Hung Wang

    Corresponding author
    • Correspondence

      Hsiu-Hung Wang, RN, PhD, FAAN, College of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, No. 100, Shih-Chuan 1st Road, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan.

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  • Disclosure The authors report no conflict of interest or relevant financial relationships.



To understand the current status of health literacy and the relationship between health literacy and health-promoting behaviors among multiethnic groups of women in Taiwan.


Convenience and snowball sampling methods were used to recruit study participants. Data were collected using a cross-sectional questionnaire survey.


We recruited community female adults who lived in greater Taipei or Taoyuan areas (northern Taiwan) from January 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.


A total of 378 female participants were contacted, of which 351 consented to participate and 347 completed valid questionnaires for analysis.


Health literacy was measured with the Taiwan Health Literacy Scale, and health-promoting behaviors were measured by the Chinese version of the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile.


Participants had a moderate level of health literacy, and one third of them had inadequate health literacy. Participants with inadequate health literacy were more likely to be younger, not a high school graduate, and Vietnamese; to have a low monthly family income and no diagnosed diseases; to use a second language; and to regard TV/radio as the most useful source of health information. Health literacy alone could significantly predict health-promoting behaviors among the participants.


Our findings confirmed that low health literacy is prevalent among underprivileged women in Taiwan. Health-related programs that are literacy sensitive and culturally appropriate are needed to teach and encourage health-promoting behaviors.