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Before the pandemic, Ohio offered in-person education for parents of children with sickle cell trait (SCT), a condition that afflicts about 8% of African Americans born each year. It was found that participating individuals with a low health literacy rate were less likely to achieve a suitable level of knowledge about managing SCT.

This study, published in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare, describes a virtual program that communicates knowledge about SCT to parents and is based on a health literacy-focused evaluation.

The educational materials made for the virtual program relied on an evaluation of seven parents, three with limited health literacy. They underwent assessments and videotaping during pre-pandemic, in-person sessions to evaluate their SCT knowledge. Clinicians, genetic counselors, health literacy experts, and patient educators reviewed the assessments, videos, and accompanying SCT visual educational material. 

Ultimately, these evaluators found multiple areas where the parents’ health literacy on SCT could be improved. These insights led directly to the development of the new program, SCTaware, for individual videoconference delivery to increase the clarity, understandability, and actionability of SCT educational materials for parents of children with SCT. 

The researchers concluded that increased investment into virtual educational programs for parents of children with SCT should be a priority in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to help promote health equity for this population [1].


[1] Abrams, M. A., Zajo, K. N., Beeman, C. M., O’Brien, S. H., Chan, P. K., Shen, Y., McCorkle, B., Johnson, L., Chisolm, D., Barnard-Kirk, T., Mahan, J. D., Christian-Rancy, M., & Creary, S. E. (2022). A health literate approach to address health disparities: a virtual program for parents of children with sickle cell trait. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/17538068.2022.2026056

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