Health literacy skills of kidney transplant recipients

Elisa J. Gordon*, Michael Wolf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Context-Although low health literacy can affect patients' treatment decision making, comprehension of health information, and medication adherence, little is known about health literacy skills of kidney transplant recipients.Objective-To examine the relationship among kidney transplant recipients' health literacy levels, transplant knowledge, and graft function.Design-Cross-sectional study of 124 adult kidney transplant recipients.Main Outcome Measures-Health literacy was assessed via the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA) and the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine-Transplantation (REALM-T). Data on recipients' transplant numeracy, knowledge needs, and demographics were collected via semistructured interviews. Multivariable linear regressions were used to assess the relationship between health literacy and graft function.Results-Most kidney recipients (91%) had adequate health literacy (S-TOFHLA); however, 81% were unfamiliar with at least 1 kidney transplant-related term (REALM-T). The 5 least familiar terms were sensitization (50%), urethra (45%), trough level (41%), blood urea nitrogen (32%), and toxicity (31%). Numeracy levels varied: 21% knew the likelihood of 1-year graft survival; 29% knew that half of kidney recipients have problems with the transplant in the first 6 months; 68% were aware of the risk of death within the first year after transplantation; and 86% knew the normal range for creatinine in kidney recipients. Patients with lower health literacy (REALM-T) had higher creatinine levels.Conclusions-Transplant providers should intervene with better patient education materials to improve patients' health literacy, which may improve patients' medication adherence or transplant outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalProgress in Transplantation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation

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