Background: The Hispanic population presents a great opportunity in terms of potential improvements in clinical outcomes and cost reduction for interventions through assessing and improving health literacy. While there are various tools to assess health literacy, many do not assess comprehensive Spanish health literacy.

Objectives: We sought to determine the health literacy rate of our Spanish-speaking population in the ED using the SAHLSA-50 tool.

Methods: We surveyed a convenience sample of 300 patients from October to November 2012 that presented to our busy, high volume, urban ED. All subjects completed the SAHLSA-50 tool and demographic form with Spanish-speaking research assistants.

Results: 63.3% were women. 8% were age 18-25, 42% were 26-40, 45% were 41-65, and 5% were 65+. 11% had less than 3 years of school, 30% had 4-6 years of school, and 59% had at least 7 years of school. Overall, 83% respondents were health literate. Those with less than 3 years of school were95% in those with 7 or more years of school. The elderly (65+) reported least years of school completed and had the lowest health literacy (56.3%).

Conclusions: There was an overall health literacy rate of 83.0%. Importantly, those with lower levels of education and elderly patients were more likely to not be health literate. As a next step, targeting those with less education and the elder within the Hispanic population may yield the most impact for improving health literacy and outcomes.

Key Take Away Points

  • Overall, only 83% of patients who self-identified as health literate were actually health literate
  • Patients with lower levels of education and the elderly were more likely to not be health literate
  • Certain categories of words may be identified for more targeted education

Author Biography

Dick Kuo, M.D. Associate Professor Baylor College of Medicine Sheetal Thaker, M.D. Martin Duncan, M.D. Michael Puente, M.D. Sonia Parra, M.D., M.Sc. Ashley Rider, M.D. Kelsey Horter, M.D. M. Tyson Pillow, M.D, M.Ed Associate Professor Baylor College of Medicine