Lung Cancer Screening Study by Haas et al.

Journal Name and Year Published

Lung cancer screening: Assessment of health literacy and readability of online educational resources, published in 2018.

General Epidemiology of the Issue

Lung cancer is America’s leading cause of malignancy-related deaths, with the underserved and ethnic minority groups suffering the highest disease burden. According to the Lung Cancer Alliance, the United States has approximately 530 lung cancer screening centers, and few of them offer health literacy services to affected patients (Haas et al., 2018). A majority of the studies conducted involve a predominantly white population. Therefore, there is little information available on the impact of ethnicity, race, and income on disease prevalence.

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The Study Purpose

The study’s purpose was to measure the health literacy of the people who frequent urban academic medical centers and assess the readability of online educational material on lung cancer screening.

The Study Hypothesis(es)

The researchers hypothesized that addressing low health literacy among lung cancer patients is necessary to improve health outcomes and maintain patient autonomy. The study participants were predominantly black, and 51.5% were men (Haas et al., 2018). In addition, 17.1% were white, 10.9% were Hispanic, and 1.2% were Asian out of the 404 patients involved in the study (Haas et al., 2018). It should be noted that only the individuals who agreed to screen for cancer between June 2015 and June 2017 were considered participants.

The Study Design

The researchers applied a retrospective cross-sectional study in an urban medical facility with a reputable lung cancer screening program. The patients completed a basic clinic intake form in which the response to each of the questions was based on a 5-point Likert scale (Haas et al., 2018). It is worth noting that the questions were designed to eliminate social stigma and underreporting.

The Statistical Techniques Used in the Study

The researchers calculated descriptive statistics using SPSS statistics for Mac version 24. They also applied the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL) readability formula to assess language complexity (Haas et al., 2018). It is based on the number of syllables in every word and the number of words in each sentence used in a phrase.

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The Main Findings

The study results demonstrated that there is a high level of inadequate health literacy. The prevalence rate ranged between 26.7 to 38% in the study population, and 46 of the 50 websites that were reviewed scored a mean FKGL score of 10.6 ± 2.2 (Haas et al., 2018). The researchers used the prevalence rate as a measure in the study. The findings are strong given that disease prevalence is highest among the underserved and minority populations.

The Bias or Error in the Study

There was a non-response bias noted during the study because some patients felt that the questions were either insulting or too personal.

The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study

One of the study’s limitations is the use of a cohort that is limited to a single urban academic center that minority groups frequent. This significantly reduces the generalizability of the data collected. The study also eliminated patients who were eligible for cancer screening but did not receive it. The study’s most important strength is the fact that it adds to the body of knowledge regarding lung cancer screening in underserved and minority populations. I liked how the researchers focused on literacy levels among minority populations. I would, however, include word labels for response options for all the questions in the Likert scale to improve the accuracy of the findings.

The Conclusion of the Study

The researchers concluded that low levels of health literacy were a major contributor to the efficient education for lung cancer screening. Most of the available materials include complex language, which limits accessibility to vital medical information.

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Haas, K., Brillante, C., Sharp, L., Elzokaky, A. K., Pasquinelli, M., Feldman, L., Kovitz, K. L., & Joo, M. (2018). Lung cancer screening: Assessment of health literacy and readability of online educational resources. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 1–7. Web.

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