Addressing Health Literacy Needs in Rheumatology: Which Patient Health Literacy Profiles Need the Attention of Health Professionals?

Mark M. Bakker*, Polina Putrik, Jany Rademakers, Mart van de Laar, Harald Vonkeman, Marc R. Kok, Hanneke Voorneveld-Nieuwenhuis, Sofia Ramiro, Maarten de Wit, Rachelle Buchbinder, Roy Batterham, Richard H. Osborne, Annelies Boonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: To identify and describe health literacy profiles of patients with rheumatic diseases and explore whether the identified health literacy profiles can be generalized to a broader rheumatology context. Methods: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, and gout from 3 hospitals in different regions in The Netherlands completed the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ). Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to identify patients’ health literacy profiles based on 9 HLQ domains. A multinomial regression model with the identified health literacy profiles as the dependent variable was fitted to assess whether patients with a given disease type or attending a given hospital were more likely to belong to a specific profile. Results: Among 895 participating patients, the lowest mean HLQ domain scores (indicating most difficulty) were found for “critical appraisal,” “navigating the health system,” and “finding good health information.” The 10 identified profiles revealed substantial diversity in combinations of strengths and weaknesses. While 42% of patients scored moderate to high on all 9 domains (profiles 1 and 3), another 42% of patients (profiles 2, 4, 5, and 6) clearly struggled with 1 or several aspects of health literacy. Notably, 16% (profiles 7–10) exhibited difficulty across a majority of health literacy domains. The probability of belonging to one of the profiles was independent of the hospital where the patient was treated or the type of rheumatic disease. Conclusion: Ten distinct health literacy profiles were identified among patients with rheumatic diseases, independent of disease type and treating hospital. These profiles can be used to facilitate the development of health literacy interventions in rheumatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-109
Number of pages10
JournalArthritis Care and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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