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The role of parent health literacy among urban children with persistent asthma

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Abstract

Health literacy (HL) affects adult asthma management, yet less is known about how parent HL affects child asthma care.

OBJECTIVE:

To examine associations between parent HL and measures related to child asthma.

METHODS:

Parents of 499 school-age urban children with persistent asthma in Rochester, New York completed home interviews. Measures: the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) for parent HL; National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) criteria for asthma severity, and validated measures of asthma knowledge, beliefs, and experiences. Analyses: bivariate and multivariate analyses of associations between parent HL measures related to child asthma.

RESULTS:

Response rate: 72%, mean child age: 7.0 years. Thirty-two percent had a Hispanic parent; 88% had public insurance. Thirty-three percent had a parent with limited HL. Low parent HL was independently associated with greater parent worry, parent perception of greater asthma burden, and lower parent-reported quality of life. Measures of health care use (e.g., emergency care and preventive medicines) were not associated with parent HL.

CONCLUSIONS:

Parents with limited HL worried more and perceived greater overall burden from the child's asthma, even though reported health care use did not vary.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Improved parent understanding and provider-parent communication about child asthma could reduce parent-perceived asthma burden, alleviate parent worry, and improve parent quality of life.

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