The Role of Culture in Health Literacy and Chronic Disease Screening and Management

Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0030, USA.
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health (Impact Factor: 1.16). 05/2008; 11(6):460-7. DOI: 10.1007/s10903-008-9135-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Cultural and language differences and socioeconomic status interact with and contribute to low health literacy, defined as the inability to understand or act on medical/therapeutic instructions. Health literacy is increasingly recognized as an important factor in patient compliance, cancer screening utilization, and chronic disease outcomes. Commendable efforts have been initiated by the American Medical Association and other organizations to address low health literacy among patients. Less work has been done, however, to place health literacy in the broader context of socioeconomic and cultural differences among patients and providers that hinder communication and compliance. This review examines cultural influences on health literacy, cancer screening and chronic disease outcomes. We argue that cultural beliefs around health and illness contribute to an individual's ability to understand and act on a health care provider's instructions. This paper proposes key aspects of the intersection between health literacy and culturally varying beliefs about health which merit further exploration.

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Available from: Julie Armin, Jul 15, 2015
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    • "Education is often thought of as a marker for HL. However, although HL and education are related to each other [20], they need to be understood as distinct concepts [21] [22]. Despite the increased recognition of the importance of both information provision and HL in cancer care, research on the role of HL in information provision to cancer patients is limited. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To assess the association of subjective health literacy (HL) and education with perceived information provision and satisfaction. Methods Women (N = 548) diagnosed with an ovarian or borderline ovarian tumor between 2000 and 2010, registered in the Eindhoven Cancer Registry, received a questionnaire including subjective HL, educational level, perceived information provision, and satisfaction with the information received. Multiple linear and logistic regression analyses were performed, controlled for potential confounders. Results Fifty percent of the women responded (N = 275). Thirteen percent had low and 41% had medium subjective HL. Women with low HL reported less perceived information provision about medical tests, and were less satisfied with the information received compared to women with high HL. Low educated women reported that they received more information about their disease compared to highly educated women. Conclusion Low subjective HL among women with ovarian tumors is associated with less perceived information provision about medical tests and lower information satisfaction, whereas low education is associated with more perceived information provision about the disease. Practice implications HL should not be overlooked as a contributing factor to patients’ perceived information provision and satisfaction. Health care providers may need training about recognizing low HL.
    Patient Education and Counseling 06/2014; 95(3). DOI:10.1016/j.pec.2014.03.008 · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    • "However, methodologically sound findings about the relationship between health literacy and health behaviours are elusive. Health literacy may be referred to both directly and indirectly with valuable insights found in discussions about specific conditions or initiatives (Davis, Dolan, Ferreira, Tomori, Green, Sipler & Bennett, 2001; Shaw, Huebner, Armin, Orzech & Vivian, 2008; Singleton, 2008). Commonly-used measures of health literacy rely on an individual's ability to read and comprehend medication and appointment instructions, and function within the health system (Baker, 2006)—abilities which may be a proxy for educational attainment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Proposed Australian health system reforms allude to health literacy as a major lever for a ‘well informed public’ and helping individuals assume more responsibility for their health. New national men’s and women’s health policies also acknowledge, to varying degrees, the importance of health literacy, but with little indication of why gender might be relevant. This omission reflects the absence of a coherent evidence base on health literacy and gender in Australia as well as in countries where health literacy has been more extensively examined. A lack of consensus on approaches to defining, measuring, and reporting on health literacy adds to the difficulties. We propose that viewing health literacy through a “gender lens” would contribute to building a much-needed evidence base about men’s health literacy.
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