Association of low caregiver health literacy with reported use of nonstandardized dosing instruments and lack of knowledge of weight-based dosing.

Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.
Ambulatory Pediatrics (Impact Factor: 2.49). 07/2007; 7(4):292-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.ambp.2007.04.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Caregivers of young children frequently measure doses of liquid medications incorrectly. Use of nonstandardized dosing instruments and lack of knowledge that dosing is weight-based contribute to dosing errors. We sought to assess whether low caregiver health literacy was associated with these outcomes.
This was a cross-sectional analysis of caregivers presenting to an urban pediatric emergency room. Dependent variables were caregiver reported use of nonstandardized dosing tools and knowledge of weight-based dosing. The independent variable was caregiver health literacy (Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults [TOFHLA]).
Two hundred ninety-two caregivers were assessed: 23.3% reported use of nonstandardized liquid dosing instruments, and 67.8% were unaware of weight-based dosing. Caregivers who were unaware of weight-based dosing were more likely to use nonstandardized dosing tools (28.3% vs 12.8%; P = .003). In unadjusted analyses, overall health literacy, reading comprehension, and numeracy were all associated with both dependent variables. In analyses adjusting for child age, health care experiences, and caregiver acculturation and education, inadequate/marginal overall health literacy was associated with lack of knowledge of weight-based dosing (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.3; P = .03), whereas lower reading comprehension was associated with both lack of knowledge (AOR 2.0; P = .03) and reported use of nonstandardized instrument (AOR 2.4; P = .007).
Low health literacy, in particular reading comprehension, was associated with reported use of nonstandardized dosing instruments and lack of knowledge regarding weight-based dosing. Both caregiver health literacy and sociodemographic factors should be considered in the design of interventions to prevent medication administration errors.

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