Objective: Suboptimal health literacy (HL) and asthma beliefs are associated with poor asthma self-management and outcomes. We tested the hypothesis that low HL is associated with inaccurate beliefs. Methods: Asthmatics ≥60 were recruited from hospital and community practices in New York, NY and Chicago, IL (N = 420). HL was measured with the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults; validated instruments derived from the self regulation model were used to assess beliefs. The association of beliefs with HL was evaluated with multivariate models. Results: Thirty-six percent of patients had low HL; 54% believed they only have asthma when symptoms are present, 29% believed they will not always have asthma and 20% believed that their doctor can cure asthma. HL was associated with beliefs of not having asthma all the time and that asthma can be cured (OR: 1.84, 95% CI: 1.2-2.82; OR: 2.22, 95% CI: 1.29-3.82, respectively). Patients with low HL were also more likely to be concerned about medication use (β = 0.92, p = .05), despite recognizing their necessity (β = -1.36, p = .01). Conclusions: Older asthmatics with low HL endorse erroneous asthma beliefs. Practice implications: Health communications for improving self-management behaviors in asthma should employ both health literacy-appropriate strategies and messages to counter illness-related misconceptions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health literacy
- Illness beliefs
- Medication beliefs