Parent health literacy, depression, and risk for pediatric injury

Erika R. Cheng, Nerissa S. Bauer, Stephen M. Downs, Lee M. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Population-wide research on the impact of parent health literacy to children's health outcomes is limited. We assessed the relationship of low parent health literacy to a range of pediatric health risks within a large cohort of primary care patients. METHODS: Data were from 17 845 English- and Spanish-speaking parents of children aged =7 years presenting for well-child care. We used a 3-item screener to measure health literacy. Outcomes included secondhand smoke exposure, asthma treatment nonadherence, parent depression, child-rearing practices, injury prevention, and parent first-aid knowledge. We summarized study variables with descriptive statistics and then performed multivariable logistic regression to identify associations between low parent literacy and our dependent measures. RESULTS: Mean child age was 4.8 years (SD 3.7); 36.5% of parent respondents had low health literacy. In models adjusted for child gender, race/ethnicity, insurance, age, and parent language preference, low parent health literacy was related to a range of pediatric health risks, including parent depression (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.32; 95% confidence interval 1.18-1.48), firearm access (AOR 1.68; 1.49-1.89), not having a working smoke detector (AOR 3.54; 2.74-4.58), and lack of first-aid knowledge about choking (AOR 1.67; 1.44-1.93) and burns (AOR 1.45; 1.29-1.63). Children of parents with low health literacy were also more likely to watch >2 hours of television per day (AOR 1.27; 1.17-1.36). CONCLUSIONS: Low parent health literacy is independently and significantly related to parent depression, child television viewing, and at-risk family behaviors associated with child injury. Use of low-literacy approaches to health-behavior interventions may be essential to address common child morbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20160025
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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