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