Article

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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    • "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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