Limited Health Literacy Linked to Poor Outcomes

Researchers in North Texas surveyed people with HIV to determine their levels of health literacy.

Limited health literacy has been linked to poor health and poor outcomes among patients with HIV, according to research presented at IDWeek 2016.1

Patrick G. Clay, PharmD, professor of pharmacotherapy at the University of North Texas System College of Pharmacy in Fort Worth, and colleagues assessed results from 78 participants in the online Health Literacy Assessment Using Talking Touchscreen Technology (HealthLiTT) survey to determine the health literacy levels of patients with HIV in North Texas.

Survey respondents were 73% male, 28% non-white, and on average, 43 years of age. Ninety percent of respondents were high school graduates, and 93% resided in an urban setting. Overall, respondents performed better when figures were presented within the survey—for example, 94% and 69% correctly selected “Take with Food” and “Take with Water” when prompted. When provided directions without images, only 19% of participants answered correctly.

Additionally, 90% of respondents understood why various medications were being used; 63% could correctly recall how the drug worked, but 44% could not remember the likelihood of side effects.

Study Limitations

  • The survey was conducted in English only
  • Survey results were not available for use in real-time; data was analyzed separately
  • The survey was conducted only when survey staff were present in the clinic; the survey was not offered at all times.

“HealthLiTT may improve patient education efforts by facilitating targeting of specific knowledge gaps in resource-limited settings,” the researchers concluded.

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  1. Clay P, Silva HJ, Uberu J Jr., Carlson EK. Health literacy: assessing the health literacy assessment using talking touchscreen technology (Health LiTT) survey in HIV participants. Presented at: IDWeek 2016; October 26-31, 2016; New Orleans, LA. Poster 1533.