Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 89, Issue 5, pp 848–860 | Cite as

Parental Health Literacy, Knowledge and Beliefs Regarding Upper Respiratory Infections (URI) in an Urban Latino Immigrant Population

  • Ann-Margaret Dunn-Navarra
  • Melissa S. Stockwell
  • Dodi Meyer
  • Elaine Larson


Parents who are recent immigrants and/or non-native English speakers are at increased risk for poor health literacy. For example, misconceptions regarding treatment for upper respiratory infections (URIs), including nonjudicious use of antibiotics, have been described among Latinos. We sought to assess the influence of health literacy on knowledge and beliefs surrounding URI care and to explore the correlation between two health literacy measures among Latino parents in northern Manhattan. A descriptive survey design was used, and a total of 154 Latino parents were enrolled from four early head start programs between September 2009 and December 2009. Health literacy was measured using the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA) and Newest Vital Sign (NVS); parental knowledge and beliefs regarding antibiotic treatment for URIs were also assessed. Analyses were conducted in 2010 with multivariable logistic regression performed to examine predictors of health literacy. Inadequate health literacy was observed in 83.8 % of respondents using NVS and 35.7 % with the S-TOFHLA. College education was significantly associated with adequate health literacy using either the NVS or S-TOFHLA; however, other results varied between measures. Using NVS, there was a greater likelihood of adequate health literacy with US birth status (AOR 13.8; 95 % CI, 1.99–95.1), >5 years US residency (AOR 7.6; 95 % CI, 1.3–43.1) and higher antibiotic knowledge scores (AOR 1.7; 95 % CI, 1.2–2.4). Using S-TOFHLA, the odds of adequate health literacy increased with access to a regular care provider (AOR 2.6; 95 % CI, 1.2–5.6). Scores consistent with adequate health literacy on the NVS, but not the S-TOFHLA, were associated with correct beliefs regarding antibiotic use for URIs in comparison to scores of participants with inadequate health literacy. Since health literacy levels were low in this population and the risk of viral URI was high during the first few years of life, targeted education to improve health literacy, knowledge, and beliefs about URI and related antibiotic treatment is needed.


Health literacy Upper respiratory infection (URI) Knowledge of antibiotics Latinos Parents 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann-Margaret Dunn-Navarra
    • 1
    • 5
  • Melissa S. Stockwell
    • 2
    • 3
  • Dodi Meyer
    • 4
  • Elaine Larson
    • 5
  1. 1.Training in Interdisciplinary Research to Reduce Antimicrobial Resistance (TIRAR)Columbia University, School of NursingNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Population and Family HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pediatrics, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Columbia University, School of NursingNew YorkUSA

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