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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Study Reveals Health-Literate Patients Not Always Adept At Managing Heart Failure Care

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A patient’s education level is not a fail-safe predictor of how well they will manage symptoms related to complicated chronic diseases, such as heart failure, according to a Purdue University study.

“Our research indicates that some of the better-educated heart failure patients in our sample did not manage their symptoms as well as those who were less educated,” said Karen S. Yehle, an assistant professor of nursing who specializes in cardiovascular conditions. “We’re not sure why this is. It could be that heart failure patients with lower health literacy experience symptoms more often and, therefore, know how to manage them better. No matter the reason, it’s a reminder to doctors, nurses and pharmacists to communicate clearly and thoroughly to all patients, regardless of how much information or guidance they might believe a particular patient needs.” …

Overall, we found that health literacy – a patient’s ability to read and understand health information – was associated with proper daily care and management for heart failure patients,” Chen said. “But there was a statistically significant negative relationship with self-care management, or when patients respond to heart failure symptoms. When patients with higher health literacy did not have symptoms, they were better at adhering to the day-to-day care of the condition in comparison to those with lower health literacy. However, when symptomatic, they appeared to have more difficulty in addressing the condition-related problems.” ..

“It’s critical that providers have better insight into how to communicate with their patients or follow up with them about their self-care,” Plake said. “From a practitioner viewpoint, you can’t assume that the information delivered to a patient is interpreted the way you want it to be. We can’t make the assumption that if someone is highly educated they are more likely to take better care of themselves.”

December 19, 2011 - Posted by | Consumer Health | ,

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