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Exploring discordance between Health Literacy Questionnaire scores of people with RMDs and assessment by treating health professionals.

Bakker, M.M., Putrik, P., Dikovec, C., Rademakers, J., Vonkeman, H.E., Kok, M.R., Voorneveld-Nieuwenhuis, H., Ramiro, S., Wit, M. de, Buchbinder, R., Batterham, R., Osborne, R.H., Boonen, A. Exploring discordance between Health Literacy Questionnaire scores of people with RMDs and assessment by treating health professionals. Rheumatology: 2022, Art. nr. keac248
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Objectives
We studied discordance between health literacy of people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) and assessment of health literacy by their treating health professionals, and explored whether discordance is associated with the patients' socioeconomic background.

Methods
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), spondyloarthritis (SpA), or gout from three Dutch outpatient rheumatology clinics completed the nine-domain Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ). Treating health professionals assessed their patients on each HLQ domain. Discordance per domain was defined as a ≥ 2-point difference on a 0-10 scale (except if both scores were below three or above seven), leading to three categories: "negative discordance" (i.e. professional scored lower), "probably the same", or "positive discordance" (i.e. professional scored higher). We used multivariable multilevel multinomial regression models with patients clustered by health professionals to test associations with socioeconomic factors (age, gender, education level, migration background, employment, disability for work, living alone).

Results
We observed considerable discordance (21-40% of patients) across HLQ domains. Most discordance occurred for "Critically appraising information" (40.5%, domain 5). Comparatively, positive discordance occurred more frequently. Negative discordance was more frequently and strongly associated with socioeconomic factors, specifically lower education level and non-Western migration background (for five HLQ domains). Associations between socioeconomic factors and positive discordance were less consistent.

Conclusion
Frequent discordance between patients' scores and professionals' estimations indicates there may be hidden challenges in communication and care, which differ between socioeconomic groups. Successfully addressing patients' health literacy needs cannot solely depend on health professionals' estimations but will require measurement and dialogue.