Background: Low health literacy (HL) is a global challenge. HL is positively correlated with chronic airways disease (CAD) outcomes. Despite the importance of HL in disease management, current HL measurement tools are suboptimal. As part of a multi-stage project to develop a performance-based, disease-specific Vancouver Airways Health Literacy Tool (VAHLT) for patients with CAD, this study assessed the relationships between VAHLT scores and CAD patient characteristics. The primary aim of the study is to provide preliminary evidence of construct validity of the VAHLT.
Methods: A cross-sectional study design was applied. Patients were recruited from 6 specialty care clinics to complete the measurement tool. Demographic and clinical data, including quality of life (QOL) and disease control, were collected via validated questionnaires. Subjects also completed spirometry. Inferential analysis was conducted using mean difference testing and correlational methods.
Results: 320 patients were recruited, and after imputing missing data, 315 were ultimately analyzed. Participants were predominantly female (60.5%), Caucasian (83.1%), had post high-school education (74.2%), with a mean age of 65.2 (SD = 13.17) years. Age was significantly negatively correlated with HL scores (p = .004); patients with post-high school education had significantly higher HL scores than those with a high school education or less (p < .001). No significant sex or ethnicity related differences in HL scores were observed. For clinical outcomes, no significant differences were found between HL scores and disease severity or measures of QOL and asthma control.
Conclusions: We report a CAD-specific HL measurement tool developed with involvement of patients and professionals. Age and education were highly correlated with HL, which emphasizes the importance of addressing these factors in HL interventions among CAD patients. In the next phase, we will evaluate the tool’s responsiveness to interventions.