Oral Presentation The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Diabetes Society and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association 2013

“The association between glycemic control and health literacy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with diabetes in Far North Queensland”. (#19)

Sean M Taylor 1 , Robyn A McDermott 1 , Ming Li 2
  1. Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention Faculty of Medicine, Health & Molecular Sciences , James Cook University, Smithfield, Queensland, Australia
  2. School of Population Health, Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Background: Indigenous Australians diagnosed with diabetes appear to have poorer glycemic control and much lower rates of insulin use than non-indigenous Australians diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes as well as extremely high rates of renal failure and other comorbidities. Health literacy is fundamental if people are to successfully manage their own health.  Several studies suggest that patients with low health literacy skills are more likely to have poor understanding of their chronic disease, worse disease self-management skills, and worse self-reported health status.

Objectives: To examine the relationship between health literacy and glycemic control using Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults, in a selected sample of Indigenous adults with Type 2 diabetes in Far North Queensland, who were recruited in the project ”Getting better at chronic care in rural Indigenous communities”. 

Methods: Interviews, surveys, questions collecting – TOFHLA, income, employment, education measures and clinical data.

Study Cohort: 213 Indigenous Australian adults with diabetes from twelve Indigenous Communities in Far North Queensland, diagnosed for more than on year with HbA1c >8.5.

Data analysis: Mean HbA1c differences by TOFHLA, socio-demographic factors, and other clinical factors were compared using t-test and ANOVA. The association between Hba1c and TOFHLA was determined using Pearson correlation.

Results:  80 men (mean age 47.7 years), and 133 women (mean age 48.0 years) completed interviews. The mean TOFHLA was 81.4: 10% scored between 0-59 (inadequate adequate functional health literacy), 18% scored between 60-74 (marginal functional health literacy) and 72% scored between 75-100 (adequate functional health literacy). Mean HbA1c was 10.7%. The correlation coefficient was -0.1between HbA1c and TOFHLA scores (P=0.2).

Conclusion: Health Literacy measured using TOFHLA did not appear to be related to glycemic control (HbA1c) in this group of Indigenous Australian adults in Far North Queensland with poorly controlled diabetes.