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


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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    • "Most of the children affected were under 2 years of age with adults being the most common person administrating the medication (Dart et al., 2009). Low health literacy has been found to be related to difficulties understanding the relationship between weight and dosage (Gribetz & Cronley, 1987), determining the correct dosage (Kumar et al. 2010a), actual dosage errors (Samuels-Kalow et al., 2013) and the use of non-standard measuring devices (Yin et al., 2007) such as teaspoons. Parents with low health literacy levels can experience difficulties in identifying the active ingredient in medications such as in cough and cold medications that could contain acetaminophen (Yin et al., 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Most families can access a range of health information and advice. Information and advice sources often include nurses, the Internet, social media, books, as well as family and friends. While the immediate aim may be to find information, it can also be to assist with parenting skills, solve parenting problems or as part of decision-making processes about their child’s health. These processes are strongly influenced by the parent’s level of health literacy. Health literacy describes a person’s capacity to obtain and utilize health related information. Although there are numerous health literacy definitions all have clearly defined steps. These steps are: obtaining relevant information; then understanding this information; and finally being able to use the information to achieve the expected outcome. Previous research has linked low levels of parental health literacy with poorer child health outcomes. Given this link, increasing health literacy levels would be advantageous for both families and health services. Nurses working with families are in a position to support the family to increase their health literacy through the use of a variety of strategies. This article outlines how health literacy can influence the way parents seek help when they are concerned about child health issues, the relevance of parental health literacy for nurses and suggests some tools that could be used to support the increase of health literacy.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing
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    • "Most, but not all of the studies, demonstrated lower knowledge of the various topics of interest in those with lower health literacy; two studies found that knowledge did not necessarily mediate behaviour [30] or adherence [37]. One study found that lack of knowledge was associated with behaviour likely to impact on adherence but adherence itself was not assessed [40]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Much of the evidence of an association between low functional or health literacy and poor health comes from studies that include people who have various cognitive difficulties or who do not speak the dominant language of their society. Low functional or health literacy among these people is likely to be evident in spoken conversation. However, many other people can talk readily about health and other issues but have problems using written information. Consequently, their difficulties may be far less evident to healthcare professionals, creating a 'hidden population' whose functional or health literacy problems have different implications because they are less likely to be recognised and addressed.We aimed to review published research to investigate relationships between low functional or health literacy and health in working age adults who can converse in the dominant language but have difficulty with written language. We searched reviews and electronic databases for studies that examined health-related outcomes among the population of interest. We systematically extracted data relating to relationships between low functional or health literacy and both health status and various possible mediators or moderators of the implications of literacy for health. We developed a narrative review. Twenty-four studies met our inclusion criteria. Lower functional or health literacy in this population was found to be associated with worse health status. This may be mediated by difficulties accessing healthcare, and poorer self-management of health problems. It is currently unclear whether, how or to what extent these difficulties are mediated by poorer knowledge stemming from low functional or health literacy. The variation in functional or health literacy measures and comparisons make it difficult to compare study findings and to establish the implications of different literacy issues for health outcomes. There is evidence in the literature that low functional or health literacy is associated with poor health in the 'hidden population' of adults whose literacy difficulties may not be evident to health care providers. Further research is needed to help understand the particular disadvantages faced by this population and to establish appropriate responses.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2010 · BMC Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: Our objective was to determine the level of adult understanding of dosage instructions for a liquid medication commonly prescribed for children. Structured interviews were conducted with 373 adults waiting for an appointment at family medicine clinics serving low-income populations in Shreveport, La; Chicago; and Jackson, Mich, from July 2003-August 2004. Subjects were asked to read a prescription label for amoxicillin and explain how they would take the medication. Correct interpretation was determined by a panel of blinded physician reviewers who coded subjects' verbatim responses. Qualitative methods were used to determine the nature of incorrect responses. Twenty-eight percent of subjects misunderstood medication instructions. The prevalence of misinterpreting instructions among subjects with adequate, marginal, and low literacy was 18%, 34%, and 43%, respectively. Common causes for misunderstanding included problems with dosage measurement (28%; ie, tablespoon instead of teaspoon) and frequency of use (33%; ie, every 3 hours instead of every 6-8 hours). In an adjusted analysis that excluded literacy, African Americans were more likely to misunderstand instructions than Caucasians (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.63, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.02-2.61). When literacy was included in the model, the effect of race on misunderstanding was reduced and nonsignificant. Inadequate and marginal literacy remained independent predictors of misunderstanding (inadequate--AOR 2.90, 95% CI= 1.41-6.00; marginal--AOR 2.20, 95% CI=1.19-3.97). Misinterpretation of pediatric liquid medication instructions is common. Limited literacy is a significant risk factor for misunderstanding and could contribute to racial disparities. Instructions should be written in a concise manner and standardized to ensure comprehension.
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