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Importance - Low health literacy is known to adversely affect health outcomes in patients with chronic medical conditions. To our knowledge, the association of health literacy with postoperative outcomes has not been studied in-depth in a surgical patient population.
Objective - To evaluate the association of health literacy with postoperative outcomes in patients undergoing major abdominal surgery.
Design, Setting, and Participants - From November 2010 to December 2013, 1239 patients who were undergoing elective gastric, colorectal, hepatic, and pancreatic resections for both benign and malignant disease at a single academic institution were retrospectively reviewed. Patient demographics, education, insurance status, procedure type, American Society of Anesthesiologists status, Charlson comorbidity index, and postoperative outcomes, including length of stay, emergency department visits, and hospital readmissions, were reviewed from electronic medical records. Health literacy levels were assessed using the Brief Health Literacy Screen, a validated tool that was administered by nursing staff members on hospital admission. Multivariate analysis was used to determine the association of health literacy levels on postoperative outcomes, controlling for patient demographics and clinical characteristics.
Main Outcomes and Measures - The association of health literacy with postoperative 30-day emergency department visits, 90-day hospital readmissions, and index hospitalization length of stay.
Results - Of the 1239 patients who participated in this study, 624 (50.4%) were women, 1083 (87.4%) where white, 96 (7.7%) were black, and 60 (4.8%) were of other race/ethnicity. The mean (SD) Brief Health Literacy Screen score was 12.9 (SD, 2.75; range, 3-15) and the median educational attainment was 13.0 years. Patients with lower health literacy levels had a longer length of stay in unadjusted (95% CI, 0.95-0.99; P = .004) and adjusted (95% CI, 0.03-0.26; P = .02) analyses. However, lower health literacy was not significantly associated with increased rates of 30-day emergency department visits or 90-day hospital readmissions.
Conclusions and Relevance - Lower health literacy levels are independently associated with longer index hospitalization lengths of stay for patients who are undergoing major abdominal surgery. The role of health literacy needs to be further evaluated within surgical practices to improve health care outcomes and use.
AIMS - To investigate the association between health literacy and cognition and nursing and patient-reported incontinence in a geriatric inpatient population transitioning to skilled nursing facilities (SNF).
METHODS - Health literacy, depression, and cognition were assessed via the Brief Health Literacy Screen (BHLS), Geriatric Depression Scale 5-item (GDS) and Brief Interview for Mental Status (BIMS), respectively. Multivariable logistic regression assessed the association between BHLS score and incontinence by: (1) nursing-reported urinary incontinence during hospitalization; and (2) patient self-reported "bladder accidents" in the post-enrollment study interview.
RESULTS - A total of 1556 hospitalized patients aged 65 and older met inclusion criteria, of whom 922 (59.3%) were women and 1480 had available BHLS scores. A total of 464 (29.8%) and 515 (33.1%) patients had nursing-reported and self-reported urinary incontinence, respectively. Nursing-reported incontinence was significantly associated with lower BHLS (ie, poorer health literacy) (aOR 0.93, 95%CI 0.89-0.99) and BIMS (ie, poorer cognition) (aOR 0.90, 95%CI 0.83-0.97) scores and need for assistance with toileting (aOR 7.08, 95%CI 2.16-23.21). Patient-reported incontinence was significantly associated with female sex (aOR 1.62, 95%CI 1.19-2.21), increased GDS score (ie, greater likelihood of depression) (aOR 1.22, 95%CI 1.10-1.36) and need for assistance with toileting (aOR 2.46, 95%CI 1.26-4.79).
CONCLUSIONS - Poorer health literacy and cognition are independently associated with an increased likelihood of nursing-reported urinary incontinence among geriatric inpatients transitioning to SNF. Practitioners should consider assessment of health literacy and cognition in frail patients at risk for urinary incontinence and that patient and nursing assessment may be required to capture the diagnosis.
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Elevated blood pressure (BP) is common in the emergency department (ED), but the relationship between antihypertensive medication adherence and BP in the ED is unclear. This cross-sectional study tested the hypothesis that higher antihypertensive adherence is associated with lower systolic BP (SBP) in the ED among adults with hypertension who sought ED care at an academic hospital from July 2012 to April 2013. Biochemical assessment of antihypertensive adherence was performed using a mass spectrometry blood assay, and the primary outcome was average ED SBP. Analyses were stratified by number of prescribed antihypertensives (<3, ≥3) and adjusted for age, sex, race, insurance, literacy, numeracy, education, body mass index, and comorbidities. Among 85 patients prescribed ≥3 antihypertensives, mean SBP for adherent patients was 134.4 mm Hg (±26.1 mm Hg), and in adjusted analysis was -20.8 mm Hg (95% confidence interval, -34.2 to -7.4 mm Hg; =0.003) different from nonadherent patients. Among 176 patients prescribed <3 antihypertensives, mean SBP was 135.5 mm Hg (±20.6 mm Hg) for adherent patients, with no difference by adherence in adjusted analysis (+2.9 mm Hg; 95% confidence interval, -4.7 to 10.5 mm Hg; =0.45). Antihypertensive nonadherence identified by biochemical assessment was common and associated with higher SBP in the ED among patients who had a primary care provider and health insurance and who were prescribed ≥3 antihypertensives. Biochemical assessment of antihypertensives could help distinguish medication nonadherence from other contributors to elevated BP and identify target populations for intervention.
© 2017 American Heart Association, Inc.
Health literacy plays a vital role in patients' understanding of their prescribed medication instructions. To inform strategies to assist providers in communicating in a manner that is easily understood by patients, it would be beneficial to determine the relationship between health literacy and the day-to-day aspects of medication adherence. This study identified: 1) differences of health literacy levels in medication adherence; 2) the association between health literacy and medication adherence; and 3) and factors associated with medication adherence score. A convenience sample of older predominantly African-American patients (N = 389), over the age of 60, completed a cross-sectional survey. Chi-square analysis assessed health literacy differences in five aspects of medication adherence. Ordinary linear regression analysis determined factors associated with medication adherence score. Patients with limited health literacy were more likely to forget to take their medications and more likely to take less medication than instructed than patients with adequate health literacy (χ(5) = 15.91, p = .007, χ(5) = 10.31, p = .036, respectively). REALM score was also significantly associated with medication adherence score (β= .016, p < .001, β = .009, p = .033), respectively). Findings suggest that providers seeking to improve medication adherence in older adults, particularly African-American patients, should focus communication on assessing health literacy levels prior to discussing medication instructions.
Although studies suggest that patients with limited health literacy and/or low numeracy skills may stand to gain the most from shared decision making (SDM), the impact of these conditions on the effective implementation of SDM in the emergency department (ED) is not well understood. In this article from the proceedings of the 2016 Academic Emergency Medicine Consensus Conference on Shared Decision Making in the Emergency Department we discuss knowledge gaps identified and propose consensus-driven research priorities to help guide future work to improve SDM for this patient population in the ED.
© 2016 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.
As the role of genomics in health care grows, patients increasingly require adequate genetic literacy to fully engage in their care. This study investigated a model for delivering consumer-friendly genetic information to improve understanding of precision medicine using health literacy and learning style principles. My Cancer Genome (MCG), a freely available cancer decision support tool, was used as a testbed. MCG content on a melanoma tumor mutation, BRAF V600E, was translated to a 6th-grade reading level, incorporating multiple learning modalities. A total of 90 patients and caregivers were recruited from a melanoma clinic at an academic medical center and randomized to 3 groups. Group A (control) received an exact copy of text from MCG. Group B was given the same content with hyperlinks to videos explaining key genetic concepts, identified and labeled by the team as knowledge pearls. Group C received the translated content with the knowledge pearls embedded. Changes in knowledge were measured through pre and post questionnaires. Group C showed the greatest improvement in knowledge. The study results demonstrate that providing information based on health literacy and learning style principles can improve patients' understanding of genetic concepts, thus increasing their likelihood of taking an active role in any decision making concerning their health.
Medication nonadherence increases the risk of hospitalization and poor outcomes, particularly among patients with cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this study was to examine characteristics associated with medication nonadherence among adults hospitalized for cardiovascular disease. Patients in the Vanderbilt Inpatient Cohort Study who were admitted for acute coronary syndrome or heart failure completed validated assessments of self-reported medication adherence (the Adherence to Refills and Medications Scale), demographic characteristics, health literacy, numeracy, social support, depressive symptoms, and health competence. We modeled the independent predictors of nonadherence before hospitalization, standardizing estimated effects by each predictor's interquartile range. Among 1,967 patients studied, 70.7% indicated at least some degree of medication nonadherence leading up to their hospitalization. Adherence was significantly lower among patients with lower health literacy (0.18-point change in adherence score per interquartile range change in health literacy), lower numeracy (0.28), lower health competence (0.30), and more depressive symptoms (0.52) and those of younger age, of non-White race, of male gender, or with less social support. Medication nonadherence in the period before hospitalization is more prevalent among patients with lower health literacy, numeracy, or other intervenable psychosocial factors. Addressing these factors in a coordinated care model may reduce hospitalization rates.
Most health literacy assessments are time consuming and administered verbally. Written self-administration of measures may facilitate more widespread assessment of health literacy. This study aimed to determine the intermethod reliability and concurrent validity of the written administration of the 3 subjective health literacy questions of the Short Literacy Survey (SLS). The Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) and the shortened test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA) were the reference measures of health literacy. Two hundred ninety-nine participants completed the written and verbal administrations of the SLS from June to December 2012. Intermethod reliability was demonstrated when (a) the written and verbal SLS score did not differ and (b) written and verbal scores were highly correlated. The written items were internally consistent (Cronbach's α = .733). The written total score successfully identified persons with sixth-grade equivalency or less for literacy on the REALM (AUROC = 0.753) and inadequate literacy on the S-TOFHLA (AUROC = 0. 869). The written administration of the SLS is reliable, valid, and is effective in identifying persons with limited health literacy.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE - Efficiency in scale design reduces respondent burden. A brief but reliable measure of numeracy may provide a useful research tool eligible for integration into large epidemiological studies or clinical trials. Our goal was to validate a 3-item version of the Subjective Numeracy Scale (SNS-3).
DESIGN AND SETTING - We examined 7 separate cross-sectional data sets: patients in the emergency department (n = 208), clinic (n = 205), and hospital (n = 460; n = 2053) and patients with chronic kidney disease (n = 147), with diabetes (n = 318), and on hemodialysis (n = 143).
MEASUREMENTS - Internal reliability of the SNS-3 was assessed with Cronbach's α. Criterion validity was determined by nonparametric correlations of the SNS-3 with SNS-8 and other measures of numeracy; construct validity was determined by correlations with measures of health literacy and education.
RESULTS - The SNS-3 had good internal reliability (median Cronbach's α = 0.78) and correlated highly with the full SNS (median ρ = 0.91). The SNS-3 was significantly correlated with other measures of numeracy (e.g., median ρ = 0.57 with the Wide Range Achievement Test 4), health literacy (e.g., median ρ = 0.35 with the Shortened Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults), and education (median ρ = 0.41), providing good evidence of criterion and construct validity.
CONCLUSION - The SNS-3 is sufficiently reliable and valid to be used as a measure of subjective numeracy.
© The Author(s) 2015.
BACKGROUND - Some patients referred for kidney transplant evaluation fail to attend the visit. Our goal was to compare demographic, socioeconomic, and psychologic factors between evaluation visit attendees and absentees.
METHODS - A convenience sample of patients referred and scheduled for kidney transplant evaluation at a single center from November 2012 to December 2013 participated in a phone survey reporting socioeconomic, demographic, and clinical characteristics; health literacy; and perceived knowledge and concerns about transplantation. Absentees were matched by race with attendees. Analyses of differences between groups were performed with chi-square test, Fisher exact test, and t tests. Multivariable logistic regression was adjusted for relevant demographic characteristics.
RESULTS - One hundred four adults participated (61% men, 46% white, 52 ± 12 years). Financial concerns were the most prevalent (67.3% affording medication, 64.1% affording operation). Previous evaluation at a different transplant center (P = 0.029) and being on dialysis (P = 0.008) were significantly associated with absence. Attendance was associated with concerns about finding a living donor (P = 0.038) and higher perceived general knowledge about transplantation (P ≤ 0.001). No differences were appreciated in demographic, socioeconomic, or health literacy factors between groups.
CONCLUSION - Both attendee and absentee patients were most concerned with the financial burden of kidney transplantation. Although concerns and perceived knowledge are important correlates of behavior, other considerations such as psychologic factors and prior medical experiences may influence patients' ability to complete the kidney transplant evaluation process. Although this pilot study was conducted in a small sample and has limited generalizability, our findings can guide future research.