Original Research

Health literacy of Sesotho-speaking patients diagnosed with chronic conditions in South Africa

Mita S. Mofoken, Marianne Reid, Melanie Pienaar, Mariette Nel
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3627 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3627 | © 2022 Mita S. Mofokeng, Marianne Reid, Melanie Pienaar, Mariette Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 May 2022 | Published: 20 December 2022

About the author(s)

Mita S. Mofoken, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Science, University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Marianne Reid, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Science, University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Melanie Pienaar, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Science, University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mariette Nel, School of Biostaticians, Faculty of Health Science, University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Health literacy influences patients’ health outcomes, as their ability to read, interpret and apply health information associated with health-related decision-making. These decision-making skills need to be made up by patients diagnosed with chronic conditions – also Sesotho-speaking patients receiving treatment in public primary health care environments.

Aim: The study aimed to assess the health literacy of Sesotho-speaking patients diagnosed with chronic conditions and to establish the associations between the sociodemographic data of patients and items of a health literacy test.

Setting: This study was conducted in public healthcare (PHC) facilities in the Free State province, South Africa.

Methodology: A quantitative descriptive cross-sectional design involved conveniently sampled patients with chronic conditions (n = 264) who were being treated at PHC facilities (n = 12) in the Setsoto subdistrict and who completed the Sesotho Health Literacy test during a structured interview. Descriptive statistics were calculated per group and compared by means of chi-square or Fisher’s exact test and Kruskal–Wallis test.

Results: Test results indicate high literacy levels in 35.6% (n = 94), moderate health literacy levels in 43.6% (n = 115) and low health literacy levels in 20.8% (n = 55) of participants. No association (p = 0.14) was found between health literacy level and gender or chronic conditions or between health literacy level and the participants’ inability to read due to poor eyesight (p = 0.21). Positive associations (p ≤ 0.01) were established between a health literacy level and age and between health literacy level and education: participants with a South African School Grade Level 9–12 (p ≤ 0.01) had higher health literacy levels.

Conclusion: Healthcare providers caring for Sesotho-speaking patients need to be sensitive about their patients’ health literacy levels, as it may play a role in their health outcomes.

Contribution: The value of the findings reported lies in the possibility of rapidly appraising the health literacy levels of a large indigenous population in South Africa diagnosed with chronic conditions.


Keywords

health literacy; public healthcare facilities; SHLT; chronic conditions; Sesotho speaker; healthcare provider; adherence.

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