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Diabetic patients with limited health literacy are at higher risk for hypoglycemia: Study

March 14, 2017

Investigators determined patients' levels of health literacy by asking patients to report problems due to reading, understanding, and filling out forms, not due to poor vision. Patients had the option to respond online, in writing or using the telephone. The researchers also asked whether study participants had experienced hypoglycemia severe enough to require assistance. The researchers found that:

11 percent of the respondents experienced hypoglycemia requiring assistance in the past 12 months, much higher than expected from prior clinical trials. 59 percent of those taking insulin had significant hypoglycemia that required assistance.Patients commonly reported limited health literacy: 53 percent reported problems learning about health, 40 percent needed help reading health materials, and 32 percent were not confident filling out medical forms by themselves.Respondents with limited health literacy were 30-40 percent more likely to experience hypoglycemia compared to those with adequate health literacy.

Data collection and analyses for this study was conducted by the NIH-funded DISTANCE study, which enrolled a sample of patients from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry. The overarching aim of DISTANCE is to investigate ethnic and educational disparities in diabetes-related behaviors, processes of care and health outcomes.

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente