Clinical Correlates of Health Literacy in People with Serious Mental Illness

Cooley, Kadi
People with serious mental illness (SMI) experience health disparities (Hert et al., 2011). Low health literacy could be an important factor for health outcomes in the SMI population (Krishan et al., 2012). The association between demographic and clinical variables was examined in people with SMI as possible predictors of health literacy. Participants were recruited by paper and electronic advertisements to assess health behaviors in adults with serious mental illness and/or a diagnosis of type II diabetes. Participants completed a battery of tests including The TOFHLA to assess health literacy, the PANSS to assess positive and negative psychiatric symptoms, and the DRS to assess cognition. Data for adults with serious mental illness only were analyzed using SPSS version 23. Participants (N = 56) were predominantly Caucasian (n = 48; 85.7%), female (n = 34; 61.8%), and lived alone (n = 26; 47.3%) or with someone else (n = 26; 47.3%). Overall, the sample had high total health literacy (M = 84.54; SD = 10.973). Total DRS scores correlated with total health literacy (r = .428; p = .001), as did living situation (r = .270; p = .047). The PANSS positive scores weakly correlated with reading health literacy (r = -.262; p = .051). The results vary by TOFHLA subscale. Using a multiple linear regression model, cognition was found to be the strongest predictor of health literacy in people with SMI (F(2,51) = 2.498, p<.092, R2 = .089; F(3,48) = 5.466, p<.003, R2 = .232). Understanding the relationship between cognition and health literacy in people with SMI could help providers improve health disparities that this population experiences.
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