Evaluation of MSU CAM health literacy scale with older adults

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


The lack of health literacy is a critical problem in the United States. The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become more prevalent and adds to the complexity of consumer health literacy. The Montana State University (MSU) CAM Health Literacy Scale is a new instrument developed to measure literacy specific to CAM therapies. The purpose of this study was to conduct further psychometric evaluation of the MSU CAM Health Literacy Scale with a rural older adult population. The specific aims were to (a) continue the assessment of the concurrent validity and reliability of the MSU CAM Health Literacy Scale and, (b) identify CAM use among older rural participants. A cross-sectional correlational design with quantitative methods was used to address the purpose and aims. Fifty two rural adults 50 years or older participated. Each participant completed a study packet which included the MSU CAM Health Literacy Scale and three general health literacy measures. The packet also included a short set of demographics and CAM use questions. Concurrent validity was assessed by examining correlations between the MSU CAM Health Literacy Scale and the health literacy measures. Internal consistency reliability was assessed using Cronbach's alpha. The analysis revealed significant correlations between the MSU Scale and the Newest Vital Sign (r=.465, p=<.001) and the S-TOFHLA (r=.293, p=<.035). The correlation between the MSU Scale and the Single Item Health Literacy Measure was not significant. The Cronbach's alpha for the Newest Vital Sign was .804, the MSU Scale was .667, and the S-TOFHLA was .915. Over one-half (N=31, 59.6%) of the respondents acknowledged using CAM therapies. This study contributes to the evidence that the MSU CAM Health Literacy Scale may be a reliable and valid tool to assess CAM Health Literacy. Ongoing assessment of the MSU CAM Health Literacy Scale is needed with a larger and more diverse sample to strengthen the evidence of validity and reliability. All providers need to include a CAM and CAM health literacy assessment with clients in their comprehensive healthcare approach to better understand and prevent health disparities.




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