The impact of parental health literacy on the early intervention referral process

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved (Impact Factor: 1.1). 08/2013; 24(3):1053-62. DOI: 10.1353/hpu.2013.0141
Source: PubMed


To compare parents' experience with the early intervention (EI) referral process based on health literacy level.

We interviewed 44 parents of children referred to EI by their pediatricians. Parents completed the Newest Vital Sign (NVS) health literacy assessment. We analyzed transcripts using modified grounded theory and compared themes based on health literacy.

Forty parents completed the NVS. Twenty-eight (70%) had adequate health literacy. Four primary themes differed between parents based on health literacy level. Parents with low health literacy commonly reported that: (1) they lacked continuity with a single pediatrician, (2) they had difficulty contacting EI, (3) they were confused about EI or the referral process (4) their pediatricians did not explain EI and written materials were not helpful.

Parents with low health literacy commonly reported difficulty with EI referrals including contact problems and confusion. Strategies that accommodate parents with low health literacy level may improve referral success.

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    ABSTRACT: Objective: We examined the performance of the Newest Vital Sign (NVS) and the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA) in caregivers of children. Method: Caregivers of children ≤12 years old seeking care for their child in a pediatric emergency department (ED) were tested using the NVS and the S-TOFHLA to measure health literacy. The results were compared with ED use outcomes. Result: The S-TOFHLA was found to have a ceiling effect as compared to the NVS; few caregivers scored in low literacy categories (P < .0001). This finding was demonstrated in both lower (P = .01) and higher (P < .001) educational attainment groups. The NVS was predictive of ED use outcomes (P = .02 and P < .01) whereas the S-TOFHLA was not (P = .21 and P = .11). Conclusions: The measures do not seem to function similarly nor predict health outcomes equally. The NVS demonstrates sensitivity in identifying limited health literacy in younger adult populations.
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