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Health literacy, cognitive ability and smoking: A cross-sectional analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere023929
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalBMJ Open
Volume8
Issue number10
Early online date27 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2018

Abstract

Objectives
We used logistic regression to investigate whether health literacy and cognitive ability independently predicted whether participants have ever smoked and, in ever smokers, whether participants still smoked nowadays.
Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting
This study used data from Wave 2 (2004-05) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which is a cohort study of adults who live in England and who, at baseline, were aged 50 years and older.

Participants
8,734 (mean age = 65.31 years, SD = 10.18) English Longitudinal Study of Ageing participants who answered questions about their current and past smoking status, and completed cognitive ability and health literacy tests at Wave 2.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
The primary outcome measures were whether participants reported ever smoking at Wave 2 and whether ever smokers reported still smoking at Wave 2.

Results
In models adjusting for age, sex, age left full-time education, and occupational social class, limited health literacy (OR = 1.096, 95% CI 0.988 to 1.216) and higher general cognitive ability (OR = 1.000, 95% CI 0.945 to 1.057) were not associated with reporting ever smoking. In ever smokers, limited compared to adequate health literacy was associated with greater odds of being a current smoker (OR = 1.194, 95% CI 1.034 to 1.378) and a 1SD higher general cognitive ability score was associated with reduced odds of being a current smoker (OR = 0.878, 95% CI 0.810 to 0.951), when adjusting for age, sex, age left full-time education, and occupational social class.

Conclusions
When adjusting for education and occupation variables, this study found that health literacy and cognitive ability were independently associated with whether ever smokers continued to smoke nowadays, but not with whether participants had ever smoked.

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