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Lower health literacy is associated with poorer management of type 2 diabetes among African Americans.

Over 37 million Americans have diabetes, and 90% to 95% of them have type 2 diabetes specifically. Although this form of diabetes is typically manageable, it does cause significant mortality and morbidity. However, it does not affect every group the same. For instance, African Americans are more likely to suffer and die from type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic Whites. Health literacy may explain why African Americans fare worse with this condition, as individuals with low health literacy and limited English proficiency are much more likely than individuals without this type of barrier to experience poorer health outcomes.

A descriptive cross-sectional design study was published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Researchers examined the link between the self-management of type 2 diabetes among African Americans (18-65 years of age) and the following:

Health literacy
Illness perception
Working memory
Executive function

A total of 53 participants met the study eligibility criteria. The results of the study showed that there was a link between health literacy and diabetes management. Individuals with a higher level of depression were more likely to struggle with limited health literacy and have poorer self-management behavior. Researchers also uncovered that individuals who self-reported better medication adherence were more likely to have higher levels of health literacy. Greater concern about illness was linked to limited health literacy and lower medication adherence.

Overall, this study indicates that improved health literacy is needed to enhance patient-healthcare provider communication and improve management adherence. The authors recommend the use of screening tools to better assess health literacy.

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Ajuwon, A. M., & Insel, K. (2022). Health literacy, illness perception, depression, and self-management among African Americans with type 2 diabetes. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract, 34(9), 1066-1074. https://doi.org/10.1097/jxx.0000000000000770