The association of health literacy with health-related quality of life in youth and young adults with spina bifida: A cross-sectional study

Academic Article


  • Objective: The objective of the study was to determine if health literacy is associated with health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with spina bifida. Study design: Between June 2019 and March 2020, the Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System Pediatric Global Health-7 (PGH-7), a measure of HRQOL, and the Brief Health Literacy Screening Tool (BRIEF) were administered to patients ≥12 years old with a diagnosis of spina bifida seen in our multidisciplinary spina bifida center. Questionnaires were completed at scheduled clinic visits. The primary outcome was the PGH-7 normalized T-score. The primary exposure was the BRIEF score. Demographic and clinical characteristics were obtained from the medical record. Nested, multivariable linear regression models assessed the association between health literacy and the PGH-7 score. Results: Of 232 eligible patients who presented to clinic, 226 (97.4%) met inclusion criteria for this study. The median age was 17.0 years (range: 12-31). Most individuals were female (54.0%) and had myelomeningocele (61.5%). Inadequate, marginal, and adequate health literacy levels were reported by 35.0%, 28.3%, and 36.7% of individuals. In univariable analysis, higher health literacy levels were associated with higher PGH-7 scores. In nested, sequentially adjusted multivariable linear regression models, a higher health literacy level was associated with a stepwise increase in the PGH-7 score. In the fully adjusted model, adequate health literacy and marginal health literacy, compared with inadequate health literacy, were associated with increases in a PGH-7 score of 3.3 (95% CI: 0.2-6.3) and 1.1 (95% CI: −2.0 to 4.2), respectively. Conclusions: Health literacy was associated with HRQOL after adjusting for demographic and clinical factors. Strategies incorporating health literacy are needed to improve HRQOL in AYAs with spina bifida.
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  • Rague JT; Kim S; Hirsch J; Meyer T; Rosoklija I; Larson JE; Swaroop VT; Bowman R; Bowen DK; Cheng EY