New study on urban health literacy & asthma

Todd Vandenbark

Health literacy logoThe University of Rochester recently conducted a study to learn about health literacy levels and resources for caregivers of children with asthma in urban areas. They sought to learn what sources of health information were used, access to and use of the Internet for information, and “determine the association between caregivers’ health literacy and use of various health information sources, including the Internet.” Participants were rated as having “adequate” health literacy if the could read at or above a 9th grade level, or “limited” health literacy if not. The study found that 37% of caregivers had limited health literacy (HL), and were significantly less likely to have Internet access in their homes, let alone access health information online. Caregivers place the highest trust in their health care professionals, and those with Adequate HL were significantly less likely to trust health information found through non-print media compared to parents with Limited HL.

The results suggest that most caregivers seek health information from a variety of resources, including print, non-print media (such as television and radio), family & friends. Because health care professionals are the primary, most-trusted source of information, the authors encourage health care professionals to be mindful of these caregivers’ potential lack of HL skills, as it can be a source for poor communication between these groups.

While the data obtained in this study is helpful, and is based on previous research, the authors’ hard work is presented primarily in text and tables. Comparisons of their findings to previous research are done entirely in text, where perhaps a graph or other visual form would make it clearer and more understandable.