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Poor 'Health Literacy' Keeps Patients From Taking Meds
Date:3/27/2013

WEDNESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Adult diabetes patients who don't understand basic health information are less likely to continue taking newly prescribed antidepressants, a new study finds.

This is an important issue because depression in adults with diabetes is often chronic and may require long-term treatment with medication, the researchers said.

The nearly 1,400 patients in the study were followed for 12 months after being prescribed an antidepressant. Most of the patients filled the prescription at least once, but 43 percent did not refill the prescription and nearly two-thirds had stopped taking their antidepressant medication by the end of the study.

The investigators found that 72 percent of the patients struggled to understand basic health instructions, which the study authors called "limited health literacy." These patients were much less likely to keep taking their antidepressants than those with good health literacy, the authors said in a news release from Kaiser Permanente.

This difference was not explained by other factors known to be associated with patients not taking prescribed medications, including age, race and ethnicity, income, and level of English-language skills, according to the study, which was published in the March issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"The high rates of early discontinuation ... among adults with diabetes who had any health literacy limitation suggest that few of these individuals received an adequate course of antidepressant therapy," lead author Dr. Amy Bauer, of the University of Washington School of Medicine, said in the news release. "Getting that sufficient treatment is critical in preventing relapse and recurrence of depression."

"Physicians should be aware of this," Bauer added. "For antidepressant treatment to succeed, patients with limited health literacy may require more intensive counseling and clearer explanations ab
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