Mithu Maheswaranathan, MD: Improving Health Literacy in Patients with SLE

November 9, 2021
Giuliana Grossi

Interventions for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) need to address physician/patient communication to improve health outcomes, according to Dr. Maheswaranathan.

According to late-breaking data presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2021 Convergence, limited health literacy in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) was associated with worsened health outcomes.

Mithu Maheswaranathan, MD, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Duke University School of Medicine, and a team of investigators found that limited health literacy in this population led to reduced patient activation, worse patient-centered care, especially regarding physician/patient communication, worse self-efficacy, and higher lupus damage and disease activity compared with patients who have adequate health literacy.

"What was striking," Maheswaranathan said, "was the reported problems on items related to patient/physician communication in the patient-centered care survey."

Many patients reported that they didn't understand the physician's answers to their questions and that their physicians were not spending adequate time with them addressing their concerns.

Maheswaranathan proposed that interventions in the future should have a dual approach by addressing disease management in a health literacy sensitive way, but, also improving the method by which patient care is implemented and provided in the healthcare environment.

"So, interventions that help address these elements of disease self-management from a health literacy perspective can help our patients more effectively manage their disease," Maheswaranathan explained, "and ultimately, we think this is an important next step to improve health outcomes in this vulnerable population."


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