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The Impact of Poor Health Literacy in Patients with COPD

The Impact of Poor Health Literacy in Patients with COPD

Health literacy has been defined as the ability to obtain, process, and understand the basic health information that is needed to make appropriate healthcare decisions. Studies have shown that many adults in the United States have limited health literacy. This can lead to underuse of preventative services, worse self-management skills, and poor outcomes among patients with chronic diseases. “The role of health literacy in COPD and its effect on health status and outcomes have received relatively little attention in clinical studies,” says Theodore A. Omachi, MD, MBA. “Understanding the role of health literacy in COPD outcomes is critical to informing communication strategies in clinical settings and developing appropriate self-management support approaches.” Poor Health Literacy and COPD Outcomes In the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Dr. Omachi and colleagues had a study published that explored the links between poor health literacy and COPD-related health and outcomes in 277 patients with the disease. The analysis measured health literacy with a validated three-item questionnaire that can be incorporated readily into routine clinical practice: “How often do you have someone like a family member, friend, hospital or clinic worker, or caregiver help you read hospital materials?” “How often do you have problems learning about your medical condition because of difficulty understanding written information?” “How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?” Scores on the questionnaire were then tabulated to measure health literacy on a point scale ranging from 3 to 15. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that improving self-management is key to preventing poor outcomes in chronic diseases.” According to the study, lower health literacy scores were associated with worse outcomes, including...
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