Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Aug;23(8):1172-6. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0612-2. Epub 2008 May 6.

Cognition and health literacy in patients with hypertension.

Author information

1
Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology and the Institute of Aviation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Approximately half of the US population has marginal or inadequate health literacy, a measure highly associated with health outcomes. This measure is often linked to age and education, but recent evidence from patients with chronic heart failure suggests that much of age-related variability in health literacy can be explained by cognitive abilities (e.g., working memory, processing speed).

OBJECTIVE:

We examined the role of cognitive and sensory abilities as mediators of age and education in determining functional health literacy among patients with hypertension.

PARTICIPANTS:

Four hundred ninety two community-dwelling adults diagnosed with hypertension (aged 21 to 92 years) participated. They were primarily female (73%), African-American (68%), and reported taking on average 7.8 prescribed medications.

MEASUREMENTS:

Before participation in a medication adherence intervention study, participants completed a battery of health literacy-related tasks. They completed tests that measured health literacy [Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (STOFHLA)], cognitive abilities (working memory, processing speed), sensory abilities (visual acuity and hearing), and physical health.

RESULTS:

Regression analyses showed that health literacy was related to age, education, and race (accounting for 24.4% of variance in STOFHLA scores). Cognitive ability accounted for an additional 24% of variance and greatly reduced the influence of age, education, and race (by 75%, 40%, and 48%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:

When controlling for cognitive and sensory variables, the association of age and education with STOFHLA scores was dramatically reduced. Thus, future interventions aimed at improving self-care for patients with low health literacy should aim to reduce demands on patients' cognitive abilities.

PMID:
18459011
PMCID:
PMC2517973
DOI:
10.1007/s11606-008-0612-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center