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J Immigr Minor Health. 2013 Jun;15(3):492-8. doi: 10.1007/s10903-012-9613-7.

The association of acculturation and health literacy, numeracy and health-related skills in Spanish-speaking caregivers of young children.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37203-1738, USA.


Little is known about the relationship among acculturation, literacy, and health skills in Latino caregivers of young children. Latino caregivers of children < 30 months seeking primary care at four medical centers were administered measures of acculturation (SASH), functional health literacy (STOFHLA), numeracy (WRAT-3) and health-related skills (PHLAT Spanish). Child anthropomorphics and immunization status were ascertained by chart review. Caregivers (N = 184) with a median age of 27 years (IQR: 23-32) participated; 89.1% were mothers, and 97.1% had low acculturation. Lower SASH scores were significantly correlated (P < 0.01) with lower STOFHLA (ρ = 0.21), WRAT-3 (ρ = 0.25), and PHLAT Spanish scores (ρ = 0.34). SASH scores predicted PHLAT Spanish scores in a multivariable linear regression model that adjusted for the age of child, the age and gender of the caregiver, number of children in the family, the type of health insurance of the caregiver, and study site (adjusted β: 0.84, 95% CI 0.26-1.42, P = 0.005). This association was attenuated by the addition of literacy (adjusted β: 0.66, 95% CI 0.11-1.21, P = 0.02) or numeracy (adjusted β: 0.50, 95% CI -0.04-1.04, P = 0.07) into the model. There was no significant association between acculturation and up-to-date child immunizations or a weight status of overweight/obese. Lower acculturation was associated with worse health literacy and diminished ability to perform child health-related skills. Literacy and numeracy skills attenuated the association between acculturation and child health skills. These associations may help to explain some child health disparities in Latino communities.

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