J STEVENSON1, H BURGESS2, A HOFFMAN3, A SMYTH3, E JOSLAND3, F BRENNAN3, MA BROWN3
1Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, St George Hospital, NSW; 2Department of Social Work, St George Hospital, NSW; 3Department of Renal Medicine, St George Hospital, NSW
Aim: To assess the health literacy (HL) of patients and their self-identified surrogate decision maker (SDM) attending a renal supportive care (RSC) clinic.
Background: Poor HL is associated with poorer patient outcomes and increased healthcare costs.
Methods: HL was measured using the Health Literacy Questionnaire. This tool assesses 9 domains of HL to determine people’s needs and challenges. Patients, and SDM, attending the RSC clinic from April 2016 to December 2016 at St George and Sutherland Hospitals were approached to participate.
Results: 38 patients and 18 SDM responded (66% and 58% response rate, respectively). Of responding patients 50% were on a non-dialysis conservative pathway and 50% were on renal replacement therapy attending for symptom support. Over 80% of patients reported agreeing or strongly agreeing to HL domains relating to feeling understood and supported by healthcare professionals (90%), having sufficient information to manage my health (84%) and social support for health (82%). However, a large number of patients reported that they often, or always, found it difficult to actively manage my health (33%), navigating the healthcare system (40%) and ability to find good health information (43%). One domain of HL: feeling understood and supported by healthcare professionals was agreed or strongly agreed by SDM (89%). Conversely a large number of SDM reported usually or always having difficulty with actively managing my own health (45%), appraisal of health information (45%), navigating the healthcare system (45%), ability to find good health information (45%) and understand health information enough to know what to do (44%).
Conclusions: RSC patients and particularly SDM have poor HL in a number of domains. Strategies to improve HL is needed in both these populations.