The Impact of Parent's Health Literacy on Pediatric Asthma Outcomes

Kathleen F. Harrington, Bin Zhang, Teresa Magruder, William C. Bailey, Lynn B. Gerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Health literacy has been associated with health disparities in many disease outcomes, including children's asthma. Parents are responsible for most of children's healthcare. Therefore, parents' health literacy may impact children's health outcomes, including asthma control. This study sought to determine the association between parent health literacy and children's asthma control among a cohort of predominately minority urban children aged between 6 and 12 years. Methods: This cross-sectional study assessed children with asthma and their parents at a single outpatient visit. English-speaking parents and their children, aged between 6 and 12 years with physician-diagnosed asthma, were eligible for this study. Healthcare providers assessed asthma control and severity, and parents completed demographic, health literacy, asthma control, and asthma knowledge measures. Children completed a pulmonary function test as part of the Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) scoring. Results: A total of 281 parent-child dyads provided data, with the majority of parents being mothers and African American, with a high school level education or less. Lower parent health literacy was associated with worse asthma control as rated both by the provider (p=0.007) and the ACQ (p=0.013), despite only moderate concordance between ratings (ρ=0.408, p<0.0001). Lower parent health literacy also was associated with less asthma knowledge, which was associated with worse asthma control. Conclusions: Higher parent health literacy was associated with more parent asthma knowledge and better child asthma control. Pediatric providers should consider tailoring education or treatment plans or utilizing universal precautions for low health literacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric, Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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