Background: The floating population in China consists primarily of internal immigrants and represents a typical health vulnerable group. Poor health literacy has recently become an obstacle in the accessibility and utilization of health services for the vulnerable population, leading to adverse health outcomes. This study aimed to examine whether health literacy affected health outcomes in China’s floating population and whether health service utilization had a mediating effect between health literacy and health outcomes.
Method: The current study utilized a cross-sectional stratified, multistage, proportional to scale (PPS) study in Zhejiang Province, China, in November and December 2019. In total, 657 valid self-reported questionnaires were recovered and used for data collection. Questionnaires included questions regarding sociodemographic characteristics, health literacy, health outcomes, and health service utilization. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test questionnaire validity; descriptive statistics were used to understand the demographic characteristics of the floating population; and structural equation modeling was used to determine whether health service utilization mediated health literacy and health outcomes.
Results: We report positive correlations between health literacy, health service utilization, and health outcomes. Mediation analysis demonstrated that health service utilization had partial mediating effects between health literacy and health outcomes. In the relationship between health literacy and health outcomes, the indirect effects of health service utilization accounted for 6.6%–8.7% of the total effects.
Conclusion: Complete health literacy, through health care literacy and health promotion literacy, affects the mobile population's initiative to use health services, which, in turn, affects health outcomes. Thus, improving the health literacy of the floating population will help to improve health outcomes. Furthermore, health service providers should enhance the diversity of health service supply to ensure that the floating population has the external resources to improve personal health literacy.