Trauma health literacy: In need of remediation

Charles P. Shahan, Jordan A. Weinberg, Louis J. Magnotti, Timothy C. Fabian, Martin A. Croce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION Little is known regarding health literacy among trauma patients. Anecdotal experience at our institution has suggested that a profound lack of understanding of basic health care information exists at some level in our patients after hospital discharge. The purpose of this study was to report the results of a pilot quality improvement project to determine trauma patient injury comprehension and how this affects their overall satisfaction with care received. METHODS Trauma patients were surveyed for knowledge of their injuries, operations, and satisfaction with their care at the first outpatient visit following hospital discharge from a Level 1 trauma center. RESULTS One hundred seventy-five surveys were distributed and 35 were returned complete and eligible for analysis. Average time from discharge to survey completion was 16 days. Seventy-five percent of patients were male, and the mean age was 37. Fifty-six percent of the injuries were from a blunt mechanism. Seventy-one percent reported household income of less than 25,000 per annum, and 61% had an education level of high school diploma or less. Forty percent of patients were unable to correctly recall their injuries, and 54% were unable to correctly recall operations performed. Seventy-two percent were unable to recall the name of any physician that provided care during their hospital stay. Nonetheless, 90% of patients were at least somewhat satisfied with their injury understanding, and only 3% felt that their level of understanding had a negative impact on their overall satisfaction with care received. There was no correlation between education or income level and ability to correctly recall injuries or operations. In addition, there was no correlation between ability to recall injuries or operations and patients' satisfaction. CONCLUSION The observed deficiency in postdischarge health literacy among our patients is alarming and demonstrates that current hospital discharge education is lacking. Although this deficit did not affect satisfaction with care, we feel a responsibility to improve the health literacy of our patients. The next step at our institution will be to implement a revised discharge education program followed by surveillance to evaluate for improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1170
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Health literacy
  • patient education
  • trauma health literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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