Health literacy of Sesotho-speaking patients diagnosed with chronic conditions: Setsoto, Free State province
Mofokeng, Mita Sarah
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Health literacy plays an integral role in ensuring positive patient outcomes, because it makes the processing and understanding of health information possible. Assessing the health literacy of patients diagnosed with chronic conditions in their home language is essential for improving their health outcomes. This study was conducted in Setsoto, Free State province, and the Sesotho Health Literacy Test (SHLT) was used to measure the health literacy level of Sesotho home-language speakers. The study aimed to assess the health literacy of Sesotho-speaking patients diagnosed with chronic conditions in Setsoto, Free-State province. The objective was to establish the associations between the socio-demographics of chronic patients attending public health facilities in Setsoto subdistrict, and items on the SHLT that reflect appraisal and understanding. The research design applied in the study was a quantitative descriptive cross-sectional design. The population consisted of patients diagnosed with a chronic condition and attending a primary healthcare (PHC) facility (n=12) in the Setsoto subdistrict. The respondents (n=264) were conveniently sampled from the PHC facilities in the subdistrict. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire, namely the 10-item SHLT questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, namely frequencies and percentages for categorical data, and medians and percentiles for numerical data, were calculated per group. The groups were compared by means of the Chi-square test for categorical data and KruskalWallis test for numerical data. The researcher studied 264 respondents from 12 public health facilities, of whom more were female respondents (82.6%) than were male respondents (17.4%). The median age of the respondents was 43 years. The majority (56.8%) of the respondents indicated Grades 9–12 as the highest grade passed, and 53.4% of the respondents indicated they had a problem reading due to poor eyesight. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was the most common chronic condition (62.1%) the respondents had been diagnosed with. The findings indicate that 35,6% (n=94) of respondents could be classified as possessing a high health literacy level; 43.6% (n=115) achieved moderate health literacy scores, and 20.8% (n=55) had low health literacy scores on the SHLT. No association (p=0.143) was found between health literacy level and gender distribution, or between health literacy levels and the respondents’ inability to read due to poor eyesight (p=0.209). Associations (p=0.001) were established between a high health literacy level and age; a high health literacy level and respondents with Grades 9–12 (p=0.001), and between a high health literacy level and items in the SHLT reflecting appraisal and understanding of health information. The implementation of the SHLT and developing a guideline for PHC facilities will assist healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive treatment management plan for patients diagnosed with chronic conditions. This will also assist the Free State Department of Health to alleviate pressure on the healthcare system.