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The Effect of Health Literacy on Asthma Control

The Effect of Health Literacy on Asthma Control

Studies have shown that only about half of American adults have basic reading and numerical skills, and a lack of these skills can compromise health literacy. Low health literacy has been associated with poorer health outcomes, higher health costs, and reduced patient satisfaction with healthcare providers. “Low health literacy is especially prevalent among patients with low socioeconomic status, the elderly, and those whose primary language is not English,” explains Andrea J. Apter, MD, MSc. “This reflects the limited educational opportunities that are available for these patient groups. In these same patients, the prevalence of asthma morbidity is high.” Low numeric literacy or numeracy has also been linked to lower asthma-related quality of life (QOL) and prior ED visits and hospitalizations for asthma. Numeric & Print Literacy The mechanisms governing the relationship between low health literacy and poor outcomes in asthma have not been well defined in clinical research. To address this gap, Dr. Apter and colleagues conducted a study to assess whether literacy is related to subsequent asthma self-management and asthma outcomes. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the study assessed numeric and print literacy in adults with moderate or severe asthma and its impact on subsequent electronically monitored adherence and asthma outcomes for 26 weeks.   According to findings, participants with higher health literacy had better asthma-related QOL and improved disease control than those with lower health literacy. For every point higher that patients scored on a measure of health-related print literacy, better QOL and asthma control was observed, as indicated by a 0.63-unit increase in the Mini-Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire and a 0.52-point...
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