Associations between health literacy and beliefs about medicines in an Irish obstetric population

Lydia Duggan, Suzanne McCarthy, Laura M. Curtis, Michael S. Wolf, Caroline Noone, John R. Higgins, Susan O'Shea, Laura J. Sahm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The authors wanted to determine the prevalence of limited health literacy, and the relation between health literacy and beliefs about medicines, in an obstetric population. A survey was administered in Cork University Maternity Hospital, Cork, Ireland. The Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine and the general section of the Beliefs About Medicines Questionnaire were used. Of 404 women, 15.3% (n = 62) displayed limited health literacy. Age and health literacy were significantly associated with one another, as were health literacy and level at which participants completed formal education. In the general harm domain, level of education and health literacy were associated with stronger beliefs: M = 11.85, SD = 2.81 vs. M = 9.75, SD = 2.11; F(3) = 13.69, p <.001. In the general overuse domain, those with limited literacy scored higher compared with those with adequate health literacy: M = 12.48, SD = 2.73 versus M = 11.51, SD = 2.63 (p =.01). These associations remained despite controlling for age (and education) in multivariable analyses. More than 1 in 7 had limited health literacy; these women may benefit from educational initiatives. Limited health literacy is associated with a more negative perception of medicines in this cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-114
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Communication
StatePublished - Oct 25 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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