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Health information not communicated well to minority populations, MU researcher finds
Date:10/31/2009

COLUMBIA, Mo. According to the Institute of Medicine, more than 90 million Americans suffer from low health literacy, a mismatch between patients' abilities to understand healthcare information and providers' abilities to communicate complex medical information in an understandable manner. In two recent studies, researchers at the University of Missouri found that two groups those with limited English proficiency and those with disabilities experience significantly lower health literacy than the general population.

"There is already a problem with low health literacy within the general population," said Diane Smith, assistant professor of occupational therapy and occupational science in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions. "When looking at populations with disabilities or limited English proficiency, people need to be more conscious that these particular populations may have more difficulty understanding information, such as treatment options or medication instructions, from their physicians."

In the two studies, researchers found that patients with disabilities or limited English proficiency (LEP) often perceived that their physicians did not listen to them, explain treatment options, treat them with respect, spend enough time with them, or involve them in the treatment decisions. In comparison to the general population, these concerns were much higher among these two groups. Among both groups, a lack of cultural understanding may contribute to poor patient-physician communication, Smith said.

In the LEP population, researchers found, in addition to health literacy issues, those with limited English proficiency had a significantly reduced access to healthcare. Few doctors have multi-lingual backgrounds especially in rural areas and it can be difficult to find a provider who can accommodate LEP patients. As a result, these patients make fewer doctor visits and receive less screenings and preventative care
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Contact: Christian Basi
BasiC@missouri.edu
573-882-4430
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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Health information not communicated well to minority populations, MU researcher finds
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