Navigation Links
Doctors Often Overestimate Patients' Health Literacy

Clients misunderstand written screening tools, but 'talking' computer program helped

FRIDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients misunderstand the written questions American doctors have them answer before physical exams, a finding that calls into question the usefulness of these screening tools, new reports say.

Two studies, presented earlier this year at the 2008 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, found that lower-than-expected literacy levels among patients and a failure to understand basic numerical measurements hurt the validity of the questionnaire results. A third study, though, found promise in using computer programs to "speak" the questions to patients.

The studies, by researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, noted shocking literacy issues. In the first, it was found that of 300 men at an inner-city hospital -- average age 61 and average reading level of fourth grade -- only one in six understood all seven questions used for in the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). In all, only 38 percent of patients understood more than half the questions, such as: "During the last month or so, how often have you had to push or strain to urinate?"

"Possibly the most worrisome thing was the number of patients who thought they understood this test -- the most commonly used instrument in urology worldwide -- but did not," Dr. Viraj A. Master, an assistant professor of urology at Emory, said in a news release issued by the American College of Surgeons.

The study also found that many patients were not capable of discussing numbers and quantities, such as rating something on a scale of one to 10 or saying whether a symptom occurred "a third of the time."

In the second study, less than a third of 266 patients -- average age of 58 -- understood numbers and quantities well enough to pass a three-question Woloshin-Schwartz numeracy quiz. The quiz asked questions such as "Imagine that we flip a coin 1,000 times. What is your best guess about how many times the coin will come up heads in 1,000 flips?" (Answer: 500 times).

Most respondents were considered "innumerate," with 33 percent answering only one question correctly and 35 percent having no correct answers.

"Even after controlling for age, race, homelessness, English as a second language, income, and a host of other variables -- including educational level -- numeracy was shown to be an independent predictor of misunderstanding," Master said. "Being innumerate, in addition to being illiterate, results in high levels of misunderstanding that severely limit access to appropriate health care for millions of patients."

Master and his colleagues tried adding pictures to their screening tests to help illustrate the concept being discussed, but this did not improve understanding in a randomized prospective trial. However, in a third study, when the team designed a computer program in which a figure speaks to the patient, asking the IPSS questions, the level of understanding increased dramatically.

"The computer program improved understanding for all patients at all educational levels. Importantly, it even improved understanding for individuals who had no familiarity with computers," Master said.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American College of Surgeons, news release, Oct. 13, 2008

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. MTBC Practice Management Quiz Sends Message to Doctors: There is Real Room for Improvement or a Need to Outsource
2. Research suggests doctors should consider kidney-sparing surgery
3. Will patients stick to physical therapy? Questionnaire can help doctors predict
4. Help for Stutterers on The Doctors TV Show Presented by Power Stuttering Center Founder Mark Power
5. Maternity Care Doctors to Call for Renewal of MCARE Abatement Fund, Address Growing Shortage of Maternity Care Physicians
6. For Some Doctors, Empathy Is in Short Supply
7. Many Doctors Dont Know Blood Pressure Guidelines
8. UC Davis doctors use multimedia to increase colorectal cancer screening among Hispanics
9. Survey: New Doctors Receive Dozens of Job Solicitations
10. Retail Clinics Attracting Those Without Regular Doctors
11. Doctors Get High Marks as Regence Members Share Opinions Online
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Doctors Often Overestimate Patients' Health Literacy
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... The Visiting ... Day Market. Featuring a collection of specialty vendors and unique items from across the ... and quality-focused health and wellness services offered by the VNA. The boutique will ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Talented ... the lowdown on sciatica in a new episode of "Success Files," which is ... events and innovation and investigates each subject in-depth with passion and integrity. , ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... First ... compliance program management, will showcase a range of technology and learning solutions at ... (NCAL) Convention and Expo to be held October 14–18, 2017 at the Mandalay ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... IsoComforter, Inc. ( ), ... of an innovative new design of the shoulder pad. The shoulder pad provides ... while controlling your pain while using cold therapy. By utilizing ice and water that ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... LOS ANGELES (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 ... ... of Parsa Mohebi Hair Restoration, has recently contributed a medical article to the ... doctors, on Dr. Mohebi’s article spotlights the hair transplant procedure known as ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)...  NDS received FDA 510(k) clearance in May 2017 for its ... specifically designed for endoscopy environments. An innovative secondary monitor solution, ZeroWire ... to support the improvement of patient outcomes, procedural efficiency, and the ... ... ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... 5, 2017  In response to the nationwide ... Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) released prescribing recommendations that urge ... used as a first-line therapy to manage a ... Recognizing the value and importance ... "Opioid Prescribing: Acute and Postoperative Pain Management" stresses ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... OBP Medical , a leading ... today announced regulatory approval from Brazil,s ... Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária (ANVISA)) to market ... with integrated LED light source and smoke evacuation ... of a tissue pocket or cavity during surgical ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: