A Qualitative Study on Health Numeracy and Patient–Provider Communication of Laboratory Numbers in Older African Americans with HIV

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Health numeracy plays a vital role in the successful management of HIV because much HIV-related health information is expressed in quantitative terms. The purpose of our study was to explore what older African Americans with HIV (N = 20) understood about their HIV laboratory numbers and to examine communication of the numbers between patients and providers during clinic visits. The following four themes emerged: (a) HIV laboratory numbers are important to understand health status; (b) the numbers can often be confusing; (c) mutual communication between patient and provider is essential to understand the numbers; and (d) when communicating numbers, use less detail. Implications for future interventions to address health numeracy deficits in this population are discussed.

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