New research among people with lupus shows that health literacy (HL) plays a key role in shaping trust in one’s rheumatologist. HL is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.
Researchers looked at HL data from 362 people with lupus and assessed how different forms of HL were associated with trust in one’s own physician and in physicians in general:
- Functional HL: the ability to read or understand the instructions or leaflets from healthcare providers, hospitals, and pharmacies.
- Communicative HL: the ability to extract and communicate health information with doctors or the family.
- Critical HL: the ability to critically analyze health information and use it to make decisions.
Among study participants, functional HL scores tended to be highest, followed by communicative HL and critical HL. Higher functional HL scores were associated with greater trust in one’s own physician, and higher communicative HL scores were linked with more trust in both one’s own physician as well as doctors overall. Interestingly, higher critical HL scores were associated with lower trust in physicians generally, but not lower trust in one’s own rheumatologist.
People who trust their healthcare providers have been shown to demonstrate good medication adherence, disease self-management, and favorable disease outcomes. The latest study findings suggest that, by adapting their communication to match each patient’s HL level, physicians can help build more trust and promote better health outcomes in people with lupus.
Coming to medical appointments with your health information and questions prepared ahead of time can also help you make the most out of your time with your doctor. Learn how to get ready for your next doctor’s appointment.
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