The role of parent health literacy among urban children with persistent asthma

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Jun;75(3):368-75. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.01.004. Epub 2009 Feb 23.


Health literacy (HL) affects adult asthma management, yet less is known about how parent HL affects child asthma care.

Objective: To examine associations between parent HL and measures related to child asthma.

Methods: Parents of 499 school-age urban children with persistent asthma in Rochester, New York completed home interviews.

Measures: the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) for parent HL; National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) criteria for asthma severity, and validated measures of asthma knowledge, beliefs, and experiences.

Analyses: bivariate and multivariate analyses of associations between parent HL measures related to child asthma.

Results: Response rate: 72%, mean child age: 7.0 years. Thirty-two percent had a Hispanic parent; 88% had public insurance. Thirty-three percent had a parent with limited HL. Low parent HL was independently associated with greater parent worry, parent perception of greater asthma burden, and lower parent-reported quality of life. MEASURES of health care use (e.g., emergency care and preventive medicines) were not associated with parent HL.

Conclusions: Parents with limited HL worried more and perceived greater overall burden from the child's asthma, even though reported health care use did not vary.

Practice implications: Improved parent understanding and provider-parent communication about child asthma could reduce parent-perceived asthma burden, alleviate parent worry, and improve parent quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Communication
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parenting*
  • Parents*
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Urban Population*