Considering health literacy, health decision making, and health communication in the social networks of vulnerable new mothers in Hawaii: A pilot feasibility study

Tetine Sentell, Joy Agner, Ruth Pitt, James Davis, Mary Guo, Elizabeth McFarlane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Health literacy is understudied in the context of social networks. Our pilot study goal was to consider this research gap among vulnerable, low-income mothers of minority ethnic background in the state of Hawaii, USA. Recruitment followed a modified snowball sampling approach. First, we identified and interviewed seven mothers (“egos”) in a state-sponsored home visiting program. We then sought to interview individuals whom each mother said was part of her health decision-making network (“first-level alters”) and all individuals whom the first-level alters said were part of their health decision-making networks (“second-level alters”). Health literacy was self-reported using a validated item. A total of 18 people were interviewed, including all mothers (n = 7), 35% of the first-level alters (n = 7/20), and 36% of the second-level alters (n = 4/11). On average, the mothers made health decisions with 2.9 people (range: 1-6); partners/spouses and mothers/mothers-in-law were most common. One mother had low health literacy; her two first-level alters also had low health literacy. Across the full sample, the average number of people in individuals’ health decision networks was 2.5 (range: 0-7); 39% of those interviewed had low health literacy. This can inform the design of future studies and successful interventions to improve health literacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2356
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume17
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Keywords

  • Filipino mothers
  • Health communication
  • Health literacy
  • Low-income mother
  • Native Hawaiian mothers
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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