The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2011 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

HEALTH LITERACY: THE CURRENT STATE OF PRACTICE AMONG RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS.

Kimberly Clark; School of Health & Public Services, Catawba Valley Community College, Hickory, NC

BACKGROUND: Nearly 50% of American adults lack adequate health literacy skills needed to understand and act on health information, leading to adverse health outcomes. Healthcare professionals do not systematically assess their patients'literacy skills, possibly due to a lack of awareness, knowledge, training, or time. The purpose of this research was to assess health literacy knowledge and experience among respiratory therapists (RTs) in North Carolina. METHODS: Health literacy knowledge and experience of RTs were assessed using the Revised Health Literacy Knowledge and Experience Survey instrument. The survey instrument was made available through a web-based survey tool to RTs with an available email address currently working in a healthcare setting. Participation in the study was voluntary. Data were analyzed using psychometric and multivariate statistical methods. RESULTS: A total of 335 RTs participated in the study. Evidence of reliability and validity of the results were obtained through item analysis and confirmatory factor analysis. For item analysis, item difficulty ranged from 0.12 to 0.96 with positive point-biserial coefficients of correlation for all items in the health literacy knowledge section. Confirmatory factor analysis suggested a reasonably good fitting model to the health literacy experience data, Satorra-Bentler scaled chi-square (28, N = 324) = 57.3, p < 0.001, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) = 0.057, Normed Fit Index (NFI) = 0.97, Comparative Fit Index (CFI) = 0.98, Goodness of Fit Index (GFI) = 0.96. Knowledge gaps were most evident in basic facts on health literacy and health literacy screening (see table). Study participants had limited health literacy experiences in activities related to the evaluation and presentation of health care information. Regression path analysis revealed a statistically significant but small relationship between health literacy knowledge and core health literacy experiences, R2 = 0.04 (N = 329, p = 0.01). Basic facts on health literacy and guidelines for presenting patient information each had significant relationship with core health literacy experiences. CONCLUSION: The results suggested that the respiratory therapists in this study have gaps in health literacy knowledge and limited experience in assessing and implementing strategies to address low health literacy among their patients.
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Overall Percent of Correct Responses for the Revised Health Literacy Knowledge Five Content Areas