Promoting improved family caregiver health literacy: evaluation of caregiver communication resources

Elaine Wittenberg, Joy Goldsmith, Betty Ferrell, Sandra L. Ragan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Family caregivers of cancer patients have a vital role in facilitating and sharing information about cancer, revealing a need to develop caregiver health literacy skills to support caregiver communication. The goal of this study was to investigate caregiver print materials and develop and assess a new caregiver communication resource titled A Communication Guide for CaregiversTM. Methods: Using a model of six domains of caregiver health literacy skills, print cancer education materials were collected and evaluated for caregiver communication support. A new caregiver communication resource was also developed and assessed by caregivers and healthcare providers. Caregivers reviewed content and assessed utility, relatability, and reading quality. Healthcare providers also assessed whether the material would be understandable and usable for cancer caregivers. Results: Only three of the 28 print materials evaluated were written at the recommended sixth grade reading level and only five addressed all six caregiver health literacy skills. Readability scores for A Communication Guide for CaregiversTM were at the sixth grade level, and caregivers reported its contents were relatable, useful, and easy to read. Healthcare providers also rated the material as easy for patient/family members of diverse backgrounds and varying levels of literacy to understand and use. Conclusions: Existing print-based caregiver education materials do not address caregivers' health literacy skill needs and are aimed at a highly literate caregiving population. A Communication Guide for CaregiversTM meets health literacy standards and family caregiver and provider communication needs. The findings are relevant for healthcare professionals who provide cancer education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-942
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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