Background: Rumors concerning various aspects of the fight against COVID-19, vaccination, in particular, have become one of the main challenges for managers and policymakers who have to deal with different aspects of the disease. This necessitates the recognition of the factors that influence the prevention and spread of these rumors.
Objectives: The current study aimed to investigate the link between health literacy among adults and their acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination rumors in Iran.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted from November 15 to December 15, 2021, in different provinces of Iran. The study population included Iranian adults, aged 18 years and older, who were selected using the snowball sampling method. The data collection tools involved two questionnaires: the Health Literacy Questionnaire, which consists of 33 items, and the COVID-19 Vaccine Rumor Questionnaire which assesses 17 rumors related to COVID-19 vaccination collected from various news sources.
Results: The number of completed questionnaires was 1158 out of 2163 questionnaire visits (74% response rate). Univariate analysis showed that health literacy had a statistically significant association with sociodemographic variables of gender, marital status, ethnicity, place of residence, and level of education. The results of data analysis also demonstrated a significant correlation between the average of rumors’ acceptance and the sociodemographic variables of gender, marital status, ethnicity, place of residence, and level of education. The results of the Pearson correlation coefficient test showed a significant and negative relationship between health literacy and rumor belief (P= 0.000, r=-0.590), indicating that those with a higher level of health literacy had a lower level of rumor acceptance.
Conclusion: Based on the findings of the present study, health literacy has a significant effect on reducing the credibility of rumors and other misinformation among community members. Macro-level decisions and policies are needed to improve factors such as health literacy and can help individuals identify and track rumors and make decisions based on reliable information on vaccination.
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