Street youth often have poor health. A number of studies have been commissioned across contexts to appreciate and address the problem. Conspicuously missing from extant researches about street youth in relation to their health however are those relating to health literacy. This study assesses general health literacy (GHL) and its association with self-perceived health status among street youth in Kumasi, Ghana. Two hundred and ninety street youth with an average age of 18 years (±3.1) participated in the study. The majority (78%) of street youth demonstrated limited GHL. Age, education, and acknowledging the streets as home, were significantly associated with GHL. Being an adult (β = −0.32, p < 0.01), being female (β = 0.26, p < 0.05), living on the streets for more than 3 years (β = 0.29, p < 0.05), and acknowledging the streets as home (β = 0.254, p < 0.05) significantly predicted limited GHL. Inadequate GHL (β = −0.50, p < 0.01) and problematic GHL (β = −0.39, p < 0.01) were inversely associated with self-perceived health status after adjusting for a number of sociodemographic variables. General health literacy is thus essential for improving the health status of this group of urban poor and should be duly recognised and systematically applied in a bid to ameliorate the health-related wellbeing of street youth.
Bibliographical noteThis paper emerged from a broader study to establish the association between social capital, health literacy, and access to health services, in selected rural and urban localities in Ashanti region in Ghana. The Committee on Human Research
Publication, and Ethics (CHRPE) of School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana, (CHRPE/AP/345/15) approved the study as part of larger study. The
study protocol was also reviewed by the Department of Social Welfare of the Kumasi Metropolitan Area as well as the Street Children Project—a non-governmental organisation, who also assisted in recruiting participants.