Background:The institute of Medicine (2004) defines health literacy as The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and service needed to make appropriate health decisions. Sub-optimal health literacy has been described as a risk factor for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. It is also linked with poorer glycemic control and higher complication rates. There is no data on health literacy in patients with type 2 diabetes in Ireland. This study measures health literacy in patients with type 2 diabetes attending the ambulatory diabetes services at Galway University hospital in Ireland.
Methods: Patients with type 2 diabetes attending the out-patient diabetes clinic over a 4 week period in June/July 2015 were invited to participate. Functional health literacy was measured by administering the Newest Vital Sign (NVS), a validated tool to measure health literacy. Ethics approval was obtained from the Galway University Hospitals Ethics committee.
Results: Sixty seven participants, ranging from 39 to 84 years, completed the study. Twenty seven (40%) had a high likelihood of limited functional health literacy, 16 (24%) a possible likelihood of limited health literacy and 24 (36%) had adequate health literacy. Only 2 participants (3%) perceived their level of health literacy as low.
Conclusions: Just over one third of participants in this study had adequate health literacy. Most of the participants with a high likelihood of limited health literacy did not perceive their health literacy skills as being inadequate.