Background: Medication labeling provides valuable health information for diabetes patients. Study on medication labeling literacy among diabetic population in Malaysia has never been done before. Therefore, this study was conducted to assess health literacy among Malaysian diabetes population on medication labeling.
Methodology: Secondary data from National Health and Morbidity Survey 2006 was used. It was a cross sectional study using a stratified two stage sampling technique. The data was analyzed using SPSS version 18. Descriptive and multiple logistic regressions were used in the analysis.All tests were two tailed with significance as p < 0.05. Odds ratio (OR) along with 95% confidence level (C.I) were derived where appropriate.
Results: There were 3851 eligible respondents in this study. The prevalence of diabetes patients who read medication labels were 75.3% (95% CI: 73.8, 76.6), did not read the label every time they received or bought medicine, 9.9% (95% CI: 18.6,21.2) and 4.8% (95% C.I: 4.1,5.6) were refuse to answer. Elderly, no formal education background and Chinese ethnic group were significantly lower in prevalence of reading medication label. Most of the respondents read information such as dosage; (46.40%), method of administration; (42.20%) and frequency of intake (40.80%). Only 8 respondents were found to read all the eight types of information on the medication labels. Majority of the respondents, 97.1% (95%CI: 96.4,97.7) claimed they understood the medication label information. Respondents who claimed they did not understand medication label were those without any formal education; 7.9% (95%C.I: 4.8,12.9), and elderly of 70 years and above; 4.3% (95%CI: 1.9, 9.3). Twelve percent of respondents never sought for clarification from the dispenser/pharmacist about their medicines. The highest prevalence of respondents who did not asked for clarification from dispenser/pharmacist were those with no formal education 14.7% (95% C.I: 1.7,2.6) and elderly aged 70 years and above; 16.0% (95% CI:12.4, 20.4).
Conclusion: Key strategies for health education towards medical labeling literacy among Malaysian diabetes need to be developed and be implemented accordingly.
Keywords: National Health and Morbidity Survey, NHMS, diabetes, medication label, health literacy