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Humana Study Examines Connection Between Health Literacy and Discrimination

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Study first of its kind to examine relationship.

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discrimination © adragan - stock.adobe.com

Health care company Humana has published the results of their latest study which looked at the connections between social and structural determinants of health, health care literacy, and perceived health care discrimination.

This is the first study by a national health plan to examine the relationship. Many health plans screen for social determinants of health but structural determinants are often overlooked.

The study lasted from December 2021 to March 2022. Results were obtained using a cross-sectional study in which 406 newly enrolled Medicare patients were asked two questions: “Within the past 12 months when seeking health care, do you feel your experiences were worse than, the same as, or better than for people of other races?” and “How often do you need to have someone help you when you read instructions, pamphlets, or other written material from your doctor or pharmacy?”

Results show that, 17.5% of participants reported low or limited health care literacy and that 1.7% of participants thought their health care experience was worse than those of other races.

Although only 7 out of 406 patients reported discrimination, six of them were black.

“Because the literature on implementing these screenings in managed care settings is so limited, we felt it was important to understand the feasibility of screening using evidence-based, validated screening instruments and train our staff to administer them. This builds off our longstanding expertise in screening members for various social needs,” Candy Magaña, MPA, Director of Health Equity Innovation, Solutions, and Transformation at Humana, said in a press release.

The researchers echo her sentiment: “We believe this study is an important first step in highlighting some of these relationships for the health care ecosystem to take action and have the tools to center health equity as a core goal for all,” they said in the study.

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