Background: Low health literacy is associated with low adherence to self-management in many chronic diseases. Additionally, health beliefs are thought to be determinants of self-management behaviors. In this study we sought to determine the association, if any, of health literacy and health beliefs among elderly individuals with COPD. Methods: We enrolled a cohort of patients with COPD from two academic urban settings in New York, NY and Chicago, IL. Health literacy was measured using the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults. Using the framework of the Self-Regulation Model, illness and medication beliefs were measured with the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (B-IPQ) and Beliefs about Medications Questionnaire (BMQ). Unadjusted analyses, with corresponding Cohen's d effect sizes, and multiple logistic regression were used to assess the relationships between HL and illness and medication beliefs. Results: We enrolled 235 participants, 29%of whom had low health literacy. Patients with low health literacy were more likely to belong to a racial minority group (p<0.001), not be married (p = 0.006), and to have lower income (p<0.001) or education (p<0.001). In unadjusted analyses, patients with low health literacy were less likely to believe they will always have COPD (p = 0.003, Cohen's d = 0.42), and were more likely to be concerned about their illness ((p = 0.04, Cohen's d = 0.17). In analyses adjusted for sociodemographic factors and other health beliefs, patients with low health literacy were less likely to believe that they will always have COPD (odds ratio [OR]: 0.78, 95%confidence interval [CI]: 0.65-0.94). In addition, the association of low health literacy with expressed concern about medications remained significant (OR: 1.20, 95%CI: 1.05-1.37) though the association of low health literacy with belief in the necessity ofmedications was no longer significant (OR: 0.92, 95%CI: 0.82-1.04). Conclusions: In this cohort of urban individuals with COPD, low health literacy was prevalent, and associated with illness beliefs that predict decreased adherence. Our results suggest that targeted strategies to address low health literacy and related illness and medications beliefs might improve COPD medication adherence and other self-management behaviors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)