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Journal Club
Open Access Article

Healthcare Literacy: Multiple Perspectives Grounded in the Experience of Mexican American Caregivers

Carolyn Spence Cagle
Jo Nell Wells
CJON 2010, 14(1), E1-E9 DOI: 10.1188/10.CJON.E1-E9

Cancer caregivers in Mexican American families experience role-related challenges influenced by limited healthcare literacy. The lack of functional health literacy becomes complex when Mexican Americans have limited English proficiency (LEP) and cultural beliefs that contrast with those of the American healthcare system. Three sequential studies focused on assessing the experience of Mexican American, female cancer caregivers, including their role learning needs; evaluating available community learning materials; and identifying healthcare provider perceptions of caregiver learning needs. Study findings provide direction to improve the process and content of teaching to caregivers with LEP and other caregivers facing the crisis of cancer. Practice recommendations focus on development of targeted learning materials appropriate to caregiver-identified learning needs, language, and education level. Priority learning needs include strategies to meet patient needs for home medication administration, nutrition, and psychological support. Caregiver-preferred formats for learning include videotapes in a family-assisted setting and oral exchanges with other caregivers and care providers. Bilingual clinic personnel who partner with Mexican American family caregivers to address their literacy issues support positive health outcomes in this vulnerable population.