Objective: Diabetes patients with limited resources often experience suboptimal care. Less is known about the role of effective health communication (HC) in caring for low income diabetes patients.
Methods: Ten health department clinics in TN participated in a trial evaluating a literacy-sensitive communication intervention. We assessed the quality of baseline HC and measured associations with diabetes outcomes. Assessments included: demographics, measures of HC, health literacy, self-care behaviors, self-efficacy, medication non-adherence, treatment satisfaction, and A1C. Unadjusted and adjusted multivariable regression models were used to test associations.
Results: Participants (N=411) were 49.7±9.5 years, 61% female, uninsured (96%), with A1C 9.6±2.1. In unadjusted analyses, better communication, was associated with lower medication non-adherence (OR 0.40-0.68, all p<0.05), higher treatment satisfaction (OR 1.76-1.96, all p<0.01), portion size reduction (OR 1.43, p<0.05), diabetes self-efficacy (OR 1.41, p<0.05), and lower A1C (β=-0.06, p<0.01). In adjusted analyses, communication quality remained associated with lower medication non-adherence (AOR 0.39-0.68, all p<0.05), and higher treatment satisfaction (AOR 1.90-2.21, all p<0.001).
Conclusions: Better communication between low-income patients and providers was independently associated with lower medication non-adherence and higher treatment satisfaction.
Practice implications: Communication quality may be an important modifiable approach to improving diabetes care for vulnerable populations.
Keywords: Diabetes; Health communication; Primary care; Provider education; Public health.
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