As the incidence of acute and chronic wound conditions rises and wound dressing protocols become more complex, uninsured patients lacking access to specialty wound care are challenged to manage their own wounds. Understanding multistep dressing change protocols may be inhibited by low health literacy. Low health literacy is associated with reduced disease knowledge and self-care. Little evidence of health literacy effects on wound patients is available nor are literacy-sensitive educational interventions that address wound knowledge and self-care. Improved outcomes occur in all health literacy levels in other diseases with the use of literacy-sensitive educational interventions that incorporate more than one literacy strategy over multiple sessions. To examine the effectiveness of a literacy-sensitive wound education intervention on wound knowledge and self-care, an evidence-based pilot project was conducted in an urban wound clinic.
A convenience sample of 21 patients received a literacy-sensitive wound education intervention consisting of spoken and written communication over several sessions. Instruments measured health literacy level, wound knowledge, dressing performance, and wound healing status. There was a significant increase in wound knowledge scores in all literacy groups from baseline to visit two (p < .01) and four (p < .01). Dressing performance scores remained consistently high through visit four in all literacy levels. All participant’s wounds progressed toward wound healing significantly from baseline to visit two (p < .01) and four (p < .01). Incorporation of a literacy-sensitive education intervention with supportive literacy aids over several sessions supports improved wound knowledge and dressing self-care and can affect healing in patients of all health literacy levels.