Strengthening Health Literacy Among Indigenous People Living with Cardiovascular Disease

Compared to non-Indigenous populations, rates of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs; e.g. angina, heart attack, stroke) morbidity and mortality are much higher for Indigenous groups.

The Institute of Medicine has reported that differences in health literacy (i.e. “the ability to access, understand and act on information for health”) alone account for 25-30 per cent of ethnic differences in health outcomes. Because CVDs are chronic diseases, self-management is central to effective CVD management.

With our collaborating partners, we developed, implemented, and evaluated an intervention to reduce the burden of chronic disease among Indigenous people in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Our focus is on improving patients’ and families’…

  • Cardiovascular disease health literacy
  • Self-management of cardiovascular disease
  • Confidence interacting with health professionals

Our goals are:

  • To develop, implement and evaluate a culturally appropriate health literacy intervention that focuses on CVD medications and communicating with health professionals about CVD management, medications and evidence-based care standards/targets.
  • To understand the impact of the intervention in the broader context of the health care services and system, and to identify other factors that may have an impact on the effect of the intervention.
  • To identify issues associated with sustainability in each site and transferability to other sites.

We developed the intervention based on key informant interviews, and it was delivered by trained service staff to patients and families in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Data was collected prior to the intervention and three times post-intervention. We also developed case studies at each of the five sites that assisted in understanding the intervention and its effects in the organizational, systemic and policy environment in the context in which it operates.

Knowledge translation will take place throughout the study, with specific feedback to health services and communities.