Student Researcher University of Utah University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Background: Health literacy, defined as an individual’s capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions, effects clinical communication and health outcomes. One aspect of this clinical communication is the ability of the provider to estimate the health literacy of the patient/caregiver, which has not been thoroughly studied.
Objective: We sought to quantify the ability of healthcare providers to estimate the health literacy of parents in the Pediatric Emergency Department and identify factors that might be related to misestimates of health literacy.
Design/Methods: Clinical providers were asked to perceive demographic factors (race/ethnicity, age, relationship to patient, and number of children) and estimate the health literacy of parents in the Primary Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. Then, the health literacy of the parent/guardian was tested using the validated Short Assessment of Health Literacy, and cross tabulated with provider estimates.
Results: We prospectively enrolled 294 parents, 234 mothers and 54 fathers (see Table 1). Preliminary results show that providers correctly estimate the health literacy of the parents 61.6% of the time, and misestimates are often underestimates (26.5%) rather than overestimates (11.9%). Most notably, providers overestimate the health literacy of 24.1% of fathers and only 9.4% of mothers (p = .012). They correctly estimate the health literacy of 64.3% of English-speaking participants compared to 27.3% of Spanish-speaking participants, and underestimate the health literacy of 54.6% of Spanish-speaking participants and only 24.3% of English-speaking participants (p = .0021). When providers perceive a participant to be a part of a racial or ethnic minority group, they only correctly estimate health literacy 35% of the time compared to 71.4% of white/non-Hispanic participants (p < 0.001). They underestimate the health literacy of 52.5% of these minority participants, while only underestimating the health literacy of 16.9% of white/non-Hispanic participants (p < 0.001). Conclusion(s): Providers misestimate the health literacy of 38% of parents in the Pediatric Emergency Department and their estimates are related to perceptions of race/ethnicity, language, and gender/parenting roles. These results suggest a need for further health literacy research and interventions in provider education and clinical practice.
Authors/Institutions: Bridget F. Dorsey, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States; Heather Cook, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States; Adam Katz, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States; Larry Cook, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States; Howard Kadish, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States; Maija Holsti, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States