180693 Evaluating the Effects of Low Health Literacy on Medication Adherence in Aging Minority Populations

Monday, October 27, 2008: 11:00 AM

Romuladus Emeka Azuine, MPH , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Finie K. Richardson, MPH , Department of Community and Family Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC
Charles P. Mouton, MD, MS , Department of Community and Family Medicine, Howard University, Washington, DC

Much is known about the prevalence of low health literacy (LHL) in the general patient population; little is known about the impact of low health literacy on medication adherence among patients age 50 or older.


The aims of the study were to: 1) Determine the prevalence of low health literacy among patients age 50 or older, and 2) Identify association between health literacy and Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) scores.


Cross-sectional study was conducted at 25 DC PrimCaRe practice sites in the Washington DC metro area. The population comprised of 234 adult patients age 50 and older recruited during a randomized two-week period from member-practice sites. Data were collected using 1) the REALM Test which assesses health literacy, and 2) the Demographic/Medication Adherence Survey which collated information about medication adherence. Data analysis was performed using SPSS software version 11.5.


We found a high prevalence of high health literacy among patients age 50 and above. However, we found no corresponding relationship between health literacy (HL) and medication adherence in 75 patients. Majority of the patients had high REALM scores, corresponding to marginal medication adherence.


Our study shows that other factors, apart from health literacy, may be responsible for non-adherence with medication among this population. Public health interventions addressing LHL among this population must be all-inclusive, irrespective of patients' prior educational achievement. Further research is needed to address possible confounders that attribute to low medication adherence in the aging population.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the session, participants shall: 1. Understand health literacy challenges facing older minority population 2. Recognize the importance of health literacy in health care practice 3. Discuss the use of two instruments in measuring health literacy and medication adherence.

Keywords: Adherence, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have both the educational and professional training and preparation to present this paper to a professional audience.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.