The Significance of Low Health Literacy, Self-Management, and Compliance in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Jane Fuerstenberg, BSN, RN
Graduate School of Nursing, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, TX

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe low health literacy and its impact on self-management and compliance in patient's with Type 2 diabetes.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to discuss health literacy and diabetes assessment tools available to measure health literacy and diabetes related knowledge.

Purpose: Low health literacy is a global health issue.  A 2010 UNESCO report states that 775 million adults worldwide lack basic reading and writing skills.  An individual’s health literacy may be significantly worse than his or her general literacy.  According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), approximately 90 million people in the United States have basic or below basic health literacy skills that prevent them from being able to manage their health care outcomes effectively.  The IOM conceptual framework provides a model for health literacy research.  Data gathered from the World Health Organization indicates there are 347 million people worldwide who have diabetes.  They further claim that Type 2 diabetes represents more than 85% of these cases.  The purpose of this project is to examine the relationship between low health literacy skills, self-management, and compliance in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Methods: This project will use a descriptive correlational study design.  The following data collection tools will be administered to a convenience sample of 53 adult subjects: a demographic questionnaire, Newest Vital Sign, Diabetes Numeracy Test-15, and Summary of Diabetes Self-care Activities.  The research questions for this study are: 1) what is the relationship between health literacy, self-management, and compliance; 2) what is the prevalence of low health literacy among a cohort of patients with Type 2 diabetes; and 3) what are the demographic factors associated with health literacy?

Results: The pilot phase of this study and subject recruitment is currently in progress. 

Conclusion: Low levels of health literacy have been linked to non-compliance and poor health outcomes.  Findings from this study could benefit nursing educators by helping them better understand the importance of health literacy screening, variables associated with low health literacy skills, and the interaction of these variables with self-management and compliance in patients with Type 2 diabetes.