Health Literacy Limited Among Patients on Hemodialysis

African-Americans and veterans on chronic hemodialysis have low health literacy

FRIDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial proportion of patients treated with chronic hemodialysis have limited health literacy, especially African-Americans, those with lower educational levels, and veterans, according to a study published online May 5 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Jamie A. Green, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues characterized the prevalence of limited health literacy and its associations with demographic and clinical characteristics in 260 patients receiving maintenance hemodialysis. They assessed health literacy using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) tool, and defined limited health literacy as a REALM score less than or equal to 60. Independent associations of demographics and baseline clinical characteristics with limited health literacy were evaluated.

The investigators found that 41 patients demonstrated limited health literacy. Limited health literacy correlated independently with African-American race, lower educational level, and veteran status. Age, gender, quality of life, serologic values, dialysis adequacy, overall symptom burden, and depression were not correlated with limited health literacy.

"We found that limited health literacy is quite common among hemodialysis patients and is most likely to be present in African-Americans, those with lower levels of educational attainment, and veterans. Further studies are needed to assess the health implications of limited health literacy in patients on hemodialysis," the authors write.

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