Examining health literacy among urban African-American adolescents with asthma

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The Journal of asthma


OBJECTIVE: This exploratory study assessed health literacy among urban African-American high school students to improve understanding of the association between adolescent health literacy and asthma.

METHODS: We conducted a secondary data analysis of the control group (n = 181) of the Puff City randomized controlled trial (2006-2010), a web-based intervention to promote asthma management among students, grades 9 through 12. A validated self-report 3-item health literacy screening instrument was completed at final online follow-up survey. Logistic regression was used to explore the association between health literacy, demographic characteristics, quality of life, asthma management, and health care utilization.

RESULTS: Multivariate analysis revealed that an overall inadequate health literacy score was associated with students who were more likely to be younger (OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.44-0.84), not on Medicaid (OR 0.36; 95% CI 0.17-0.76), have at least one hospitalization (OR 1.29; 95% CI 1.07-1.56); and a lower overall quality of life (OR 0.75; 95% CI 0.59-0.95). Those lacking confidence in filling out medical forms, needing help reading hospital materials, and having difficulty understanding written information were more likely to not have a rescue inhaler (OR 0.49; 95% CI 0.25-0.94), have one or more emergency visits (OR 1.21 95% CI 1.02-1.43), and one or more hospitalizations (OR 1.19; 95% CI 1.01-1.41), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate a significant association between inadequate health literary and suboptimal asthma management. It is important to advance understanding of adolescent health literacy, especially those at-risk, as they assume asthma self-management tasks and move toward independent adult self-care.

Medical Subject Headings

Adolescent; Adult; Black or African American; Asthma; Emergency Service, Hospital; Female; Health Literacy; Hospitalization; Humans; Male; Medicaid; Quality of Life; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Surveys and Questionnaires; United States; Urban Population; Young Adult

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