Carbone Cancer Center and Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin - Madison, 610 Walnut St., WARF Room 307, Madison, WI, 53726, USA. [Email]
BACKGROUND : Health literacy is the ability to perform basic reading and numerical tasks to function in the healthcare environment. The purpose of this study is to describe how health literacy is related to perceived coordination of care reported by breast cancer patients. METHODS : Data were retrieved from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute-sponsored "Share Thoughts on Breast Cancer" Study including demographic factors, perceived care coordination and responsiveness of care, and self-reported health literacy obtained from a mailed survey completed by 62% of eligible breast cancer survivors (N = 1221). Multivariable analysis of variance was used to characterize the association between presence of a single healthcare professional that coordinated care ("care coordinator") and perceived care coordination, stratified by health literacy level. RESULTS : Health literacy was classified as low in 24% of patients, medium in 34%, and high in 42%. Women with high health literacy scores were more likely to report non-Hispanic white race/ethnicity, private insurance, higher education and income, and fewer comorbidities (all p < 0.001). The presence of a care coordinator was associated with 17.1% higher perceived care coordination scores among women with low health literacy when compared to those without a care coordinator, whereas a coordinator modestly improved perceived care coordination among breast cancer survivors with medium (6.9%) and high (6.2%) health literacy. CONCLUSIONS : The use of a single designated care coordinator may have a strong influence on care coordination in patients with lower levels of health literacy.