Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is effective at reducing further cardiac events. However, dropout rates are high, and maintenance of behavioral change post-CR is challenging. Health literacy (HL) may influence self-management of cardiac risk, yet few studies have explored this association. This study aimed to describe HL among CR attendees; first to describe the HL profiles of people commencing CR and second to examine HL changes between program entry and completion.
CR attendees in Melbourne, Australia, completed the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) at program admission and completion. The HLQ measures HL across 9 scales. Cluster analysis grouped participants according to their HL profile. Effect sizes were used to determine changes in HLQ scores. Post-program interviews explored the role of HL in participant recovery.
Participants completed baseline (n = 60) and post-program (n = 38) data collection. Mean age was 60.3 ± 11.7 yr, and 38.3% had myocardial infarction and/or percutaneous coronary intervention. Approximately 18% of participants did not complete the program. Five HL clusters were revealed. The clusters most likely to drop out were confident users of the health system. The cluster least likely to drop out reported lower confidence in their ability to find health information and navigate services. Information-seeking ability improved over time, but no other HL improvements were seen.
There is a wide range of HL profiles in people attending CR. Findings suggest that CR programs should consider a variety of approaches to meet the diverse HL requirements of attendees.