Health communication, self-care, and treatment satisfaction among low-income diabetes patients in a public health setting

Richard O. White, Svetlana Eden, Kenneth A. Wallston, Sunil Kripalani, Shari Barto, Ayumi Shintani, Russell L. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


Objective: Diabetes patients with limited resources often experience suboptimal care. Less is known about the role of effective health communication (HC) in caring for low income diabetes patients. Methods: Ten health department clinics in TN participated in a trial evaluating a literacy-sensitive communication intervention. We assessed the quality of baseline HC and measured associations with diabetes outcomes. Assessments included: demographics, measures of HC, health literacy, self-care behaviors, self-efficacy, medication non-adherence, treatment satisfaction, and A1C. Unadjusted and adjusted multivariable regression models were used to test associations. Results: Participants (N= 411) were 49.7. ±. 9.5 years, 61% female, uninsured (96%), with A1C 9.6. ±. 2.1. In unadjusted analyses, better communication, was associated with lower medication non-adherence (OR 0.40-0.68, all p<. 0.05), higher treatment satisfaction (OR 1.76-1.96, all p<. 0.01), portion size reduction (OR 1.43, p<. 0.05), diabetes self-efficacy (OR 1.41, p<. 0.05), and lower A1C (β= -0.06, p<. 0.01). In adjusted analyses, communication quality remained associated with lower medication non-adherence (AOR 0.39-0.68, all p<. 0.05), and higher treatment satisfaction (AOR 1.90-2.21, all p<. 0.001). Conclusions: Better communication between low-income patients and providers was independently associated with lower medication non-adherence and higher treatment satisfaction. Practice Implications: Communication quality may be an important modifiable approach to improving diabetes care for vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-149
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015



  • Diabetes
  • Health communication
  • Primary care
  • Provider education
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this