THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- About one in six kidney
dialysis patients in the United States doesn't understand health
information that's important for their well-being, a new study
Researchers found that 41 of the 260 dialysis patients (16
percent) in the study had limited health literacy, which refers to
the ability to obtain, process and understand health information in
order to make appropriate health decisions.
Certain groups of patients were most likely to have low health
literacy. Those with less than a high school education had more
than a 12-fold increased risk, while blacks and veterans had more
than a threefold increased risk, according to Dr. Jamie Green, of
the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues.
The study is published online May 5 in the
Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The study authors noted that health literacy is especially
important for dialysis patients, who must go to treatment sessions
several times a week, follow dietary and fluid restrictions, and
deal with complex medication regimens.
"We anticipate our findings will increase awareness of the importance of health literacy in patients with kidney disease, stimulate providers to consider [health] literacy when communicating with patients, and lead to future studies to address limitations in health literacy," Green said in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.
The researchers are currently following dialysis patients to
learn how limited health literacy affects adherence to dialysis,
the need for kidney transplantation, and the risk of death.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality outlines how
improve your health literacy.