by Matthew Shinkle
One of every four patients with a gynecologic oncology office visit had inadequate levels of cancer health literacy, according to data presented at Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.
Researchers found racial and ethnic minorities, as well as patients with a lower income or a language barrier, more likely to have poor cancer health literacy.
Background and methodology
Cancer health literacy affects a patient’s capacity to make decisions about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
“Low cancer health literacy has been associated with worse health outcomes, more distress at the time of diagnosis, greater utilization of emergency services and more medication errors,” Emily A. Miller, MD, of NewYork Presbyterian Weill Cornell, and colleagues wrote.
Miller and colleagues sought to evaluate cancer health literacy levels among patients with gynecologic cancer at an urban teaching hospital.
- Seventy-one of 97 patients evaluated had adequate levels of cancer health literacy.
- Racial and ethnic minorities and patients with a lower income or a language barrier had lower rates of cancer health literacy.
Researchers collected data among English- and Spanish-speaking patients aged 18 years or older seeking care at an outpatient gynecologic oncology clinic from April to August 2022. They used the Cancer Health Literacy Test-6 — a self-administered questionnaire — to collect demographic and cancer health literacy data.
A score of 5 or greater indicated adequate cancer health literacy.
A total of 97 patients (median age, 64 years; range, 29-97) completed the questionnaire (89% in English, 11% in Spanish). Of the study group, 36% identified as Hispanic/Latina, 35% as non-Hispanic white, 23% as non-Hispanic Black and 6% as other.
Most respondents (74%) had either Medicare or state-funded insurance, 30% reported an annual income of $40,000 or less per year, and 22% listed high school or below as their highest education level.
Results, next steps
Researchers reported that 71 patients (73.2%) had adequate levels of cancer health literacy.
Non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic respondents had a higher likelihood of displaying inadequate levels of cancer health literacy than their non-Hispanic white counterparts (73% vs. 97%; P < .01).
Inadequate cancer health literacy appeared more common among Spanish-speaking patients than English-speaking patients (27% vs. 79%), those with an annual income of $40,000 or less vs. more than $40,000 per year (43% vs. 82%) and those with high school vs. some or more college education (43% vs. 85%; P < .01 for all).
Electronic medical patient portal activation rates appeared lower among patients with inadequate cancer health literacy (62% vs. 94%).
Researchers found no association between cancer health literacy and age or insurance status.
Researchers recommended implementation of the Cancer Health Literacy Test-6 as a tool for outpatient clinical practices to determine if a patient may be in need of additional counseling or targeted interventions.
This article was published by Healio.