Researchers at a university are investigating how health literacy affects diabetes management in a Staffordshire city.
A research team at the Centre for Psychological Research at Keele University are aiming to produce a report for Stoke-on-Trent City Council to offer them a better idea on how to support people with diabetes in the Stoke-on-Trent area.
The ‘Action on health literacy in Stoke-on-Trent: Engaging South Asian men and Young men with Diabetes’ project has been given £49,000 funding from the council.
Principal investigator Dr Emee Vida Estacio, pictured left, told how the project has been commissioned to understand how health literacy impacts on diabetes management.
It comes after the revelation that the city has the worst literacy levels in England.
Dr Estacio said: “This is part of a wider project to engage people with their health. There is an association between low literacy and poor health in this area, and our project is about tackling this issue.
“After research, we found out that the age group we targeted had quite a limited knowledge of healthy eating and a lack of acceptance about their condition.
“They also had poor literacy levels which meant it was difficult to interpret health literacy, and this includes information on prescriptions and medication.
“We have targeted people with diabetes because the prevalence of the condition in Stoke-on-Trent is high.”
According to statistics, 1 in 3 South Asian men in Stoke-on-Trent have diabetes.
Preliminary investigations undertaken by healthcare professionals showed that this ethnic group, along with young men under 30, are less likely to engage with controlling their diabetes.
Participants were recruited through various methods, including through partnerships with GP practices, social networking and walk-abouts on the streets of Stoke-on-Trent.
The investigation involves participants completing the British version of the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA-UK), which measures a participants health literacy level.
As of February 2012, 45 participants had taken part in the project, and the research team are hoping to interview 50 in total.
Dr Estacio, who is also a lecturer of health psychology at the university, admitted that the project, which began in March 2011, had been quite a challenge.
She said: “We have been to many events all over the city to try and recruit participants.
“The purpose of this project is to engage people into better looking after their health, and according to statistics, the group we have targeted are less likely to engage. Therefore, encouraging people to participate has been a tough task at times.
“However, the response we have had has been good. Although it has taken a lot of time to get our target number of participants, the information we have received has been very thorough.
“We have been keen to do more than sit down and interview participants, but also to get them involved in the project through other methods.”
One of these methods involved encouraging participants to take part in a ‘photovoice’ project- taking snapshots of their daily lives and how they manage their condition.
The photos were put on display in Cobridge Community Centre, based in the city, during an exhibition in December.
Research assistant Toni Karic, pictured right, led this programme, and told how despite only a small number of participants taking part, each made this side of the project their own.
She added: “Each participant showed how personal the condition is.
“They all had different views on diabetes and the photos mainly displayed what effect it had on their lives.
“We had photos of flu jabs, meals, of people injecting- it gave us a very good idea of their experiences.”
The final report of the project is expected for completion in April 2012.
Findings will be used to design an intervention to address some of the issues raised, mainly through a group forum.
The research team are also hoping to apply the knowledge to find out the affect of adult health literacy on the management of other long-term conditions.
Are you conducting research on diabetes? Then get in touch! Contact Lee on firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your project!