Clinicians poorly assess health literacy-related readiness for transition to adult care in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease

Jeannie S Huang, Allison Tobin, Trevor Tompane
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2012, 10 (6): 626-32

BACKGROUND & AIMS: To prepare for the transition from pediatric to adult-oriented health care systems, adolescents must develop the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information; make appropriate health decisions; and interact effectively with health care professionals. However, physicians use subjective methods to determine patients' readiness for this transition. We investigated health care literacy-related readiness for transition of children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to identify determinants and compare actual levels with clinicians' opinions.

METHODS: The study included 74 pediatric patients with IBD ≥10 years old who were recruited from a pediatric hospital-based clinic. We evaluated their functional and interactive health literacy and recorded clinicians' perceptions of literacy and readiness for transition among pediatric patients. Relationships between health literacy measures, demographic variables, and clinician perceptions were determined.

RESULTS: Health literacy-related readiness for transition was observed in 11% of the patients analyzed. However, clinicians found 47% of the cohort ready for the transition, on the basis of literacy standards. Health literacy-related readiness for transition was associated with older age (P < .01), white race (P = .03), and low income (P < .02). Agreement was poor between measures-defined and clinician-defined levels of health literacy-related readiness for transition (P = .18).

CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians inadequately judge the health literacy-related readiness for transition to adult care of pediatric IBD patients. Improved awareness of health literacy issues among adolescents with IBD is needed among health care providers and health care systems.

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