206541 Meaning of Literacy for People with Psychiatric Disability

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:46 PM

Alisa K. Lincoln, PhD, MPH , Health Sciences and Sociology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Lori R. Wallace, MPH , Department of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA
Meghan Doran, ABD , Health Sciences and Sociology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
While both limited literacy and mental disorders are prevalent problems, little is known about the relationship between the two, though they both cause considerable distress, stigmatization, diminished quality of life, and impaired functioning. Capabilities suggests that literacy is a central component of well being, providing people with access to knowledge and the freedom to reason and think in a reasoned and articulate way.

This pilot study, uses a participatory research model to examine the role of literacy in the lives of people with severe psychiatric conditions. A team of researchers, providers and service users developed a qualitative interview guide to better understand how literacy and struggles with literacy impact the lives and recovery of people living with mental illness. We conducted 20 interviews, 10 with people with limited and 10 with people with higher literacy who were receiving Massachusetts Department of Mental Health case management services. Preliminary results highlight differences between those with limited and with higher literacy in several areas. This pilot study is the first step in a research trajectory to better understand the relationship between literacy and psychiatric disability, and to ultimately design and evaluate interventions that will increase literacy and reduce its impact on the lives of people with severe mental illness.

Learning Objectives:
1. Demonstrate the contribution of literacy to well being for people with psychiatric disabilities. 2. Identify differences between limited and higher literacy among this population 3. Identify potential interventions that may increase literacy and diminish its impact among this population.

Keywords: Recovery, Mental Illness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Investigator NIMH sponsored study Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts
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.