Health Literacy in Orthopaedic Trauma Patients

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This study aimed to determine the level of health literacy in a postoperative orthopaedic trauma population and to evaluate the efficacy of a simple predischarge discussion strategy, targeted at improving health literacy.


A pre–post intervention study was conducted from April 2014 to January 2015.


Academic Level 1 trauma center.


One hundred ninety consecutive orthopaedic trauma patients with operatively managed lower limb fractures were recruited. All eligible participants agreed to participate.


The first ninety-nine patients received usual care (UC). The following 91 patients received a structured predischarge discussion, including x-rays, written and verbal information, from the orthopaedic staff (DG). Patients were then randomized into health literacy evaluation before first outpatient review or after first outpatient review.

Main Outcome Measures:

The primary outcome measure was a questionnaire determining health literacy.


Ninety-six (97%) of the UC patients and 87 (96%) of the discussion patients (DG) completed the interview. UC preoutpatient (n = 46) demonstrated a mean score of 4.67 of a maximum 8. UC postoutpatient (n = 50) demonstrated a mean score of 5.42. DG preoutpatient (n = 47) demonstrated a mean score of 6.70. DG postoutpatient (n = 40) demonstrated a mean score of 7.08.


Australian orthopaedic trauma patients demonstrate poor health literacy, with this not showing improvement after their first outpatient follow-up visit. The use of a time efficient, structured predischarge discussion improved patient health literacy.

Level of Evidence:

Therapeutic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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