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Health Coaching Has Differential Effects on Veterans with Limited Health Literacy and Numeracy: a Secondary Analysis of ACTIVATE.

Nouri SS, Damschroder LJ, Olsen MK, Gierisch JM, Fagerlin A, Sanders LL, McCant F, Oddone EZ. Health Coaching Has Differential Effects on Veterans with Limited Health Literacy and Numeracy: a Secondary Analysis of ACTIVATE. Journal of general internal medicine. 2019 Apr 1; 34(4):552-558.

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BACKGROUND: Health coaching is an effective behavior change strategy. Understanding if there is a differential impact of health coaching on patients with low health literacy has not been well investigated. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a telephone coaching intervention would result in similar improvements in enrollment in prevention programs and patient activation among Veterans with low versus high health literacy (specifically, reading literacy and numeracy). DESIGN: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred seventeen Veterans with at least one modifiable risk factor: current smoker, BMI 30, or < 150 min of moderate physical activity weekly. METHODS: A single-item assessment of health literacy and a subjective numeracy scale were assessed at baseline. A logistic regression and general linear longitudinal models were used to examine the differential impact of the intervention compared to control on enrollment in prevention programs and changes in patient activation measures (PAM) scores among patients with low versus high health literacy. RESULTS: The coaching intervention resulted in higher enrollment in prevention programs and improvements in PAM scores compared to usual care regardless of baseline health literacy. The coaching intervention had a greater effect on the probability of enrollment in prevention programs for patients with low numeracy (intervention vs control difference of 0.31, 95% CI 0.18, 0.45) as compared to those with high numeracy (0.13, 95% CI - 0.01, 0.27); the low compared to high differential effect was clinically, but not statistically significant (0.18, 95% CI - 0.01, 0.38; p = 0.07). Among patients with high numeracy, the intervention group had greater increases in PAM as compared to the control group at 6 months (mean difference in improvement 4.8; 95% CI 1.7, 7.9; p = 0.003). This led to a clinically and statistically significant differential intervention effect for low vs high numeracy (- 4.6; 95% CI - 9.1, - 0.15; p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: We suggest that health coaching may be particularly beneficial in behavior change strategies in populations with low numeracy when interpretation of health risk information is part of the intervention. CLINICALTRIALS. GOV IDENTIFIER: NCT01828567.

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