Inhaled medications are recommended as first-line treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and can reduce exacerbations and hospitalizations. Low health literacy is associated with poor inhaler technique.Objective:
This study examined whether handouts written specifically for patients with low health literacy are more effective in showing patients how to use their medications when compared to standard education materials.Methods:
A prospective, experimental study was performed at a community-based hospital. Patients included in the study were admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of COPD, taking at least 1 inhaled medication and identified as having low health literacy based on a Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine—Short Form. Low health literacy handouts were compared against the standard hospital educational materials for inhalers. Correct technique during each demonstration was evaluated using a standardized checklist.Results:
Mean baseline scores for inhaler technique were 12.2 ± 2.2 steps correct for the control group and 13.4 ± 1.3 for the low health-literacy group of the 18 maximum points (P = nonsignificant). The mean change in inhaler technique score for the control group was 1.0 ± 1.8, while the mean change in inhaler technique score for the low health-literacy group was 2.1 ± 2.7 (P = .03).