The role of culture in health literacy and chronic disease screening and management

Susan J. Shaw, Cristina Huebner, Julie Armin, Katherine Orzech, James Vivian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

107 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cultural and language differences and socioeconomic status interact with and contribute to low health literacy, defined as the inability to understand or act on medical/therapeutic instructions. Health literacy is increasingly recognized as an important factor in patient compliance, cancer screening utilization, and chronic disease outcomes. Commendable efforts have been initiated by the American Medical Association and other organizations to address low health literacy among patients. Less work has been done, however, to place health literacy in the broader context of socioeconomic and cultural differences among patients and providers that hinder communication and compliance. This review examines cultural influences on health literacy, cancer screening and chronic disease outcomes. We argue that cultural beliefs around health and illness contribute to an individual's ability to understand and act on a health care provider's instructions. This paper proposes key aspects of the intersection between health literacy and culturally varying beliefs about health which merit further exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-467
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Keywords

  • Cancer screening
  • Culture
  • Diabetes
  • Health literacy
  • Hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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