Online Program

Role of health literacy in parent medication beliefs

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 1:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

Deesha A. Patel, MS, Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
Michael Wolf, PhD, MPH, Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Lee Sanders, MD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Ruth Parker, MD, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Laura Curtis, MS, Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
Stacy Bailey, PhD, MPH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Shonna Yin, MD, MS, Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health, NYU School of Medicine / Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, NY

Previous studies have found associations between low health literacy (HL) and negative medication beliefs, but knowledge is limited among parents of young children. We aimed to examine the association between HL and perceptions about medications in English and Spanish speaking parents of young children.


Parents of children ≤8y were recruited from 3 urban pediatric clinics. HL was measured in 1,041 parents using the Newest Vital Sign and medication beliefs using the overuse and harm scales from Beliefs about Medication Questionnaire (BMQ; 5 point Likert: 1=strongly agree to 5=strongly disagree). Chi-square tests were used to assess differences in % “endorsed” (agree/strongly agree) for individual BMQ items by HL. Using ordinal logistic regression, tertiles of mean overuse and harm scores were regressed on HL, adjusting for race/ethnicity, education, and clinic.


Parents had a mean (SD) age of 29.4(7.4) years; 89% mothers, 31% <HS grad, 55% Hispanic, 36% Spanish speakers, 38% low HL. Low HL was associated with 1 of the 3 overuse items (“Doctors place too much trust on medicines”, p<.0001) and 4 of the 5 harm items (p<0.05; e.g. “Most medicines are addictive”, p<.0001). Compared to parents with adequate HL, parents with low (AOR=2.2 [95%CI: 1.6-3.1]) and marginal (AOR=1.7 [95% CI: 1.2-2.3]) HL had higher odds of endorsing beliefs about medication harm.


Low HL is independently associated with negative beliefs about medication harms among parents, even after adjustment for demographic factors.  Healthcare professionals should use HL appropriate strategies to inform parents about medications and prevent these misconceptions.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate between items in the Beliefs about Medication Questionnaire that are related to medication overuse and those that are related to medication harm. Identify beliefs about medication that are associated with low health literacy among parents of young children.

Keyword(s): Health Literacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently involved in the design and statistical analysis of multiple randomized controlled trials focused on health literacy and medication safety. My interests lie in research aimed at guiding health care interventions to improve patient understanding and decision-making, particularly in safe medication use.
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.