Poor health literacy worsens glaucoma

May 22, 2008

Poor health literacy is contributing to disease progression among glaucoma patients, according to a study published in the May 2008 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Poor health literacy is contributing to disease progression among glaucoma patients, according to a study published in the May 2008 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Mark S. Juzych, MD, MHSA, of the Kresge Eye Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, US, and colleagues conducted a one-year cross-sectional observational study of 204 glaucoma patients (of whom 102 had "poor health literacy" and 102 had "adequate health literacy") to determine the relationship between health literacy and disease awareness, treatment compliance and disease progression.

Patients with adequate health literacy presented with lower initial visual field loss (mean deviation [SD], -7.79 [6.9] dB) compared with low health literacy patients (mean deviation [SD], -10.58 [9.3] dB). The poor health literacy group demonstrated significant variation in treatment compliance and appointment attendance compared with patients from the adequate health literacy group, and showed worse visual field parameters at later check-ups than the adequate health literacy group (pattern SD change [SD], 0.19 [2.5] dB and -0.7 [2.2] dB, respectively).

As poor health literacy is associated with greater disease progression due to low awareness and lack of compliance, the researchers concluded that doctor communication with this group should be improved.