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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848

Abstract

WASSERMAN, Zelda; MAJA, Todd M.  and  WRIGHT, Susanna C.D.. Assessment of the English literacy level of patients in primary health care services in Tshwane, Gauteng province: Part 2. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2010, vol.15, n.1, pp.1-6. ISSN 2071-9736.

Low literacy can be described as the inability to read, write or use numbers effectively. The limited ability to read and understand health care instructions directly translates into poor health outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess the English literacy levels of primary health care patients using the Learning Ability Battery (LAB) and the adapted Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy, Revised (REALM-R) and to determine how the results of the adapted REALM-R correlate with those of the LAB. Data were collected by means of a self-report whereby the participants had to answer the questions that were posed in the LAB and read the words out loud for the adapted REALM-R. The data analysis was performed by means of descriptive and inferential statistics, including the chi-square test and Spearman's rho. The result of the study indicated that in South Africa, school grades achieved and the reading levels of primary health care patients differ with four grades. In terms of the correlation between the results of the adapted REALM-R and those of the LAB, a correlation of r = 0.43 (p < 0.001) could be established. Depending on the cut-off point used for the adapted REALM-R, 67% of the participants had low literacy levels. The study provides evidence of the importance of a validated, quick and easy-to-administer literacy screening tool. The effective assessment of patients' literacy levels will assist registered professional nurses to provide health education on an appropriate level to improve patients' health literacy.

Keywords : English literacy levels; learning ability battery; literacy; primary health care; REALM-R.

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