BACKGROUND: Decision-makers and health professionals face challenges in providing quality medical services while optimizing diminishing resources. Health literacy is associated with health outcomes and health system costs and influences the way in which communication is managed in the health system. OBJECTIVE: This study examined the association between the level of health literacy of service providers in the community, their awareness of health literacy, their attitudes toward health literacy promotion, and the way in which they communicate with patients with low health literacy. METHODS: A cross-sectional analytic study was conducted among 50 physicians and 50 administrative staff members in community clinics of the Maccabi Health Maintenance Organization in Israel. KEY RESULTS: Significant positive associations were found (p < .05) between the level of health literacy, the attitudes toward health literacy promotion, and the degree to which special communication techniques were used when treating patients with low health literacy. Significant associations were found (p < .01) between the level of awareness, as well as the attitudes toward health literacy promotion and the degree to which communication techniques were applied. Higher health literacy is associated with more favorable attitudes toward health literacy promotion. Additionally, a significant positive association (p < .01) was found between the attitudes toward health literacy promotion and the use of communication techniques. No mediation was found among the research variables. CONCLUSIONS: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that examines health literacy among physicians. The results indicate gaps in the awareness of, and attitudes toward, health literacy among community health care providers, thus suggesting the need for developing and applying guidelines for improving efforts of health system providers regarding health literacy and for applying recommended tools for health communication. [HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice. 2021;5(3):e194-e200.] Plain Language Summary: This study examined the link between the health literacy of health care providers (e.g., physicians, service administrators), their awareness and attitudes toward health literacy promotion, and how they communicate with patients with low health literacy. The findings showed significant and positive relationships between these aspects of health literacy as well as gaps in the health care system that need to be addressed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (all)