Physician Resources Home arrow Medical News arrow Poor health literacy associated with disease progression
Poor health literacy associated with disease progression
Written by Medical News Feed   

CHICAGO—Glaucoma patients in urban areas who have poor health literacy appear to miss more appointments and to have worse disease understanding and greater disease progression than patients with adequate health literacy, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Discuss this article on the forums. (0 posts)



“Health literacy, as a discrete form of literacy, is increasingly important in health care,” according to background information in the article. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines health literacy as ‘the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions’.”

Mark S. Juzych, M.D., M.H.S.A., of the Kresge Eye Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, and colleagues used a standardized test to determine the health literacy of 204 English-speaking patients treated for glaucoma for at least one year. Patients’ demographic information and glaucoma understanding were assessed through an oral questionnaire.

Of the 204 glaucoma patients, half were categorized as having poor health literacy and the other half were categorized as having adequate health literacy. “Being of white race, having an education of some college or more and having a household income of $20,000 or greater was associated with a lower likelihood of having poor health literacy,” the authors write.

On average, the poor literacy group had lower glaucoma understanding, missed more appointments per year and reported having missed taking eye drops more frequently than those in the adequate literacy group, with 65 patients having missed taking eye drops two or more times per month compared with only 34 patients in the adequate literacy group. Patients with poor health literacy also showed greater visual field loss at the beginning of the study and significantly worse visual field parameters when comparing recent and initial visual fields.

“Closing the gap in health literacy is one essential component in reducing disparities in glaucoma care. Screening patients for poor literacy is a first step,” the authors conclude. “However, the real challenge is in shaping effective public health communication that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for patients and promotes compliance with medications and follow-up treatment with their physicians.

“In addition, there is a need to improve physician communication, which should consider the needs and competencies of patients with poor health literacy.”
(Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126[5]:718-724.

Editor's Note: This study was supported by the Penta Glaucoma Fund. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

For more information, contact JAMA/Archives media relations at 312/464-JAMA (5262) or e-mail mediarelations{at} .

Discuss this article on the forums. (0 posts)

< Prev   Next >

Common Diseases

Swine Flu - Updates and information on H1N1 2009 (AKA Swine Influenza) pandemic.

Ankylosing spondylitis - Current protocols for diagnosis and treatment options.

Wegener granulomatosis - Autoimmune etiology and clinical course.

Diabetes - disease and management information, including diagnosis, typical treatment plans and diabetes supplies.


Medical Careers

The US medical jobs market has stayed hot for health care providers. Whether you believe that a provider shortage is in the offing or that the ratio of physicians-to-patients is too high, physician jobs and nursing jobs abound.

A wide variety of medical jobs can be found in the netdoc health care job listings. Particular strengths include permanent and locum tenens physician jobs, nursing jobs across the US, and radiology positions.

Other resources include physician salary information, medical career guidance, and the ability to post physician jobs.


When hiring your medical practice office manager, what was the most important consideration?
Copyright 2005 - 2020 Medical Resource Group, LLC. All rights reserved.