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Medication Literacy and Somali Older Adults Receiving Home Care

Miner, Sarah, PhD, RN; McDonald, Margaret V., MSW; Squires, Allison, PhD, RN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/NHH.0000000000000673

Medication literacy is the ability of individuals to access and understand medication information and then use that information to act and take their medication in a safe and appropriate way. The purpose of this study was to explore medication literacy in a group of Somali older adults and their families using qualitative secondary analysis. We conducted an analytic expansion of an existing qualitative study that explored the home healthcare perceptions of Somali older adults and their families. Qualitative data collected from 14 Somali families about home healthcare were reviewed and analyzed for material related to medication literacy. Data analysis revealed a number of important findings related to medication literacy and resulted in the discovery of four themes: Medication literacy is needed among Somali older adults and their families, Using home healthcare (HHC) to improve medication literacy, Better communication is essential to improving medication literacy, and Medication literacy is an intersecting family and social issue. The results of this study indicate that HHC has a role to play in improving the health and medication literacy of these families. They also highlight the need to further explore what techniques, tools, and/or supports HHC professionals need to care for non-English speaking populations. Future research needs to address how to meet the needs of diverse and vulnerable patients like Somali older adults, and how best to prepare HHC providers to do this.

Sarah Miner, PhD, RN, is a Post Doctoral Fellow, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York, New York.

Margaret V. McDonald, MSW, is an Associate Director, Center for Home Care Policy and Research, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, New York, New York.

Allison Squires, PhD, RN, FAAN, is an Associate Professor, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York, New York.

Funding for the original research was provided by The Transcultural Society of Nursing and The University of Rochester School of Nursing. Thank you to Refugees Helping Refugees for their support and collaboration.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Address for correspondence: Sarah Miner, PhD, RN, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, 433 1st Ave., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10010 (

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