A research team identified several areas of health literacy of informal caregivers that appeared related to the psychological health of patients with breast cancer. They reported their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Cancer Survivors.
In this analysis of outcomes for patients with breast cancer enrolled in the MyHealth trial based in Denmark, patients and their informal caregivers completed questionnaires after the conclusion of the patient’s primary treatment. The informal caregivers were surveyed for healthy literacy using the Health Literacy Questionnaire. Patients were surveyed using multiple questionnaires measuring outcomes regarding health-related quality of life (HRQOL), depression, and anxiety.
A total of 340 patient-caregiver pairs were evaluated. The majority (79%) of pairs involved a caregiver who was a partner to the patient, while 16% involved a caregiver who was a family member. Although no significant associations were identified connecting caregiver health literacy to patient anxiety, several dimensions of health literacy were associated with outcomes for depression and HRQOL among patients.
Statistically significant links were identified between lower levels of patient depression and higher scores in the following dimensions of caregiver health literacy: ability to actively engage with providers, navigating the healthcare system, and understanding health information well enough to know what to do.
Significant relationships were found between higher levels of patient HRQOL and higher scores in these dimensions of caregiver health literacy: having sufficient information to manage health, navigating the healthcare system, ability to find good information, and understanding health information well enough to know what to do.
“We show for the first time that caregiver health literacy is associated with patient depression and [HRQOL],” the researchers concluded in their report. They suggested that directing more attention to the health literacy of informal caregivers may be beneficial for patient outcomes.
Høeg BL, Frederiksen MH, Wreford Andersen EA, et al. Is the health literacy of informal caregivers associated with the psychological outcomes of breast cancer survivors?J Cancer Surviv. Published online November 9, 2020. doi:10.1007/s11764-020-00964-x