Numeracy in Patients with Hemophilia
Understanding Basic Numerical Concepts to Influence Performance of Health Tasks in Patients with Hemophilia
ASH 2015 (Orlando, December 5-8) The importance of numeracy (the ability to use mathematics and numbers in everyday life) was explored in an oral presentation at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2015 Annual Meeting. Being numerate means having the assurance and skill to use numbers and mathematical methods in all aspects of life including as patients making sense of health information. Patients with hemophilia are often exposed to various mathematical concepts throughout their life in relation to treatment, including for example factor levels, bleeding rates, likelihood of developing an inhibitor. However, little is known about numeracy in the hemophilia population. Researchers at Emory University assessed numeracy using tests with word problems (3 questions) and with stick figures (4 questions). 91 adults with hemophilia participated in the study. The median age of the participants was 34 years, and they were followed for a median of 17 years at the HTC. Only 24% answered all the word questions correctly and 66% answered all the stick figure related questions correctly; 22% answered all 7 questions correctly.
The researchers concluded that a significant percent of the adult patients with hemophilia did not have a good basic knowledge of numbers. Patients with less than a college education were more likely to not be numerate. Accordingly, many patients with less than a college education may struggle to understand basic number-related concepts and this may influence their understanding of the treatment plan including dosing and chances of developing complications related to the disease. The better understanding of stick figures compared with word problems could help guide development of educational materials and patient-centered discussions on mathematical concepts.