Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Health information sources and health literacy levels of Latinos in a midwestern tri -state area
by Britigan, Denise H., Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, 2009, 239; 3389708
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this research study was to determine the sources of health information and the health literacy levels of Latinos in the tri-state area and to determine possible relationships with acculturation levels, country of familial origin, or other demographical characteristics. Variables were observed through focus groups and person-to-person orally-administered surveys with adult participants from the local Latino community. The results of this study may facilitate the ability of health educators and other health professionals to understand preferences and abilities of the Latino community and contribute to their ability to deliver culturally competent communication and health education messages.

The population studied was a convenience sample of Latino adults ( N = 214) living in a large, metropolitan area ("tri-state area") in the Midwest region of the United States.

The 14 hypotheses that the researcher investigated were to see if the sample population's sources of health information varied with their respective health literacy levels (in English and/or Spanish), acculturation, and/or other demographic variables such as country/region of familial origin, length of residence in the U.S., education level, age, or gender. Because the variables mentioned above did not meet the assumption of normality distribution, non-parametric statistical analyses were performed to determine if any statistically significant relationships existed. The results of the analyses showed statistical significance for all of the relationships studied, such that all of the 14 null hypotheses were rejected.

Regarding the main source of health information for all of the surveyed participants, almost half chose a medical source as their main source for health information. Two-thirds of the participants that took the S-TOFHLA in Spanish had adequate functional health literacy in Spanish, almost a quarter had low functional health literacy in Spanish, and that the remaining few had marginal functional health literacy in Spanish. A little more than three quarters of the participants read at or below the 7th-8th grade level in English as measured by REALM-SF, and less than a quarter at the >=9 th grade level in English. For those participants that took the S-TOFHLA in English, the majority had adequate functional health literacy in English and the remaining two participants each had marginal or low level functional health literacy respectively. Almost all of the participants had high adherence to the Hispanic domain, slightly more than half had low adherence to the Non-Hispanic domain, and that almost half of the research study participants were bicultural (As measured by the Bi-Dimensional Acculturation Scale).

A person's health literacy in English (i.e., their ability to read medical terms in English) varied with their health literacy in Spanish, their acculturation to the U.S. cultural domain, their acculturation to the Hispanic domain, their country/region of origin, their length of residence in the U.S., their age, or their gender. In addition, the local adult members of the Latino community researched in this study that had inadequate FHL levels in Spanish had lived in the U.S. a shorter length of time than those with adequate FHL levels in Spanish. Spanish was the preferred language for health information by almost all of the participants in the focus groups and the survey participants. Although three-quarters of the participants have looked for health information due to an illness in the past, the respondents were split approximately in half regarding preventive health information seeking behavior versus those that preferred to look for information only when ill.

Health literacy is a multifaceted issue that requires a multi-sectorial approach for our society. It is the researcher's opinion that there is room for improvement in the ways in which health education and health promotion programs connect with racial/ethnic minority populations. Three general approaches are recommended. First, evaluation and assessment of literacy, reading grade level and numeracy skills (for example, using numeracy props techniques) of the target audience for health education programs in the Latino community must be conducted. Second, the selection of the tools to measure these abilities must be practical and reliable to support their use in the field. And third, we must meet health education program participants at the appropriate language and reading level needs of the individuals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Guyler, Liliana
Commitee: King, Keith, Murnan, Judy, Vaughn, Lisa
School: University of Cincinnati
Department: Health Education
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 71/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Health education, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: Acculturation, Health education, Health information, Health literacy, Hispanics, Latinos
Publication Number: 3389708
ISBN: 978-1-109-56547-8
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