An assessment of health literacy about complementary and alternative medicine in adult residents of a frontier county in Northwestern Montana
Porter, Ashley Erin
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The purpose of this study was to examine CAM health literacy among residents of a frontier county. Health literacy levels in the United States have historically been low. CAM use in the United States continues to grow each year. The combination of the two issues creates the potential for poor health outcomes. Previous research indicates that rural and frontier residents have high rates of CAM use and lower health literacy when compared to urban populations. Quantitative research methods and Pender's Health Promotion Model provided the underlying framework for this study. A systematic sampling of 100 residents of a frontier county in Northwestern Montana participated in the study. The data were collected by use of a mail survey that included a ten-item CAM health literacy quiz and was analyzed using the SPSS 18 version statistical software program. The results indicated that more than half of the participants used some from of CAM, either through visits to a CAM provider or a self-directed CAM. Participants reported they most often obtained information about CAM through self-study and about health issues from a health care provider. Greater than half of the participants were rated as Average for their CAM health literacy score. When exploring selected sociodemographics, a significant relationship was found between gender and CAM health literacy. Females had higher CAM health literacy rates. Health literacy about CAM scores were similar between frontier residents in this study and a previous study of CAM health literacy in rural residents. The majority of both populations had Average CAM health literacy. The implications of the study for nursing research include a) further research regarding CAM health literacy, b) establishing a valid and reliable CAM health literacy measurement tool and c) further research to identify and trend resources utilized to obtain information about health problems and CAM. The implications of the study for nursing practice include a) self evaluation of CAM knowledge and feeling about CAM use by health care providers b) directing patients to reputable resources about CAM and c) assessing patient CAM use.