The Influence of Causal Knowledge on the Comprehension and Retention of Medical Information among Younger and Older Adults

Karen Michelle ZhangUniversity of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
Leora SwartzmanUniversity of Western Ontario
John Paul MindaThe University of Western Ontario

Abstract

Older adults are often susceptible to confusing or forgetting medical instructions. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of causal knowledge on the learning and retention of medical information among younger and older adults. Participants were asked to read about a fictitious disease with or without explanations on the cause-and -effects of illness management. A multiple-choice knowledge test was administered immediately and 1-week following the presentation of health booklets. Results demonstrated that causal knowledge facilitated the application and retention of novel medical knowledge across time for younger adults. In contrast, causal explanations did not seem to influence the test performances of older participants. After controlling for age, verbal ability, working memory, and health literacy, provision of causal explanation explained a significant amount of unique variance in test performance. Incorporating causal explanations in health education materials may have the potential to help patients acquire medical knowledge.

Files

The Influence of Causal Knowledge on the Comprehension and Retention of Medical Information among Younger and Older Adults (499 KB)



Back to Table of Contents