Empowering Women's Prenatal Communication: Does Literacy Matter?

Debra L. Roter, Lori Ann Hamby Erby, Rajiv N. Rimal, Katherine C. Smith, Susan M Larson, Ian M. Bennett, Katie Washington Cole, Yue Guan, Matthew Molloy, Jessica Bienstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study was designed to evaluate the impact of an interactive computer program developed to empower prenatal communication among women with restricted literacy skills. A total of 83 women seeing 17 clinicians were randomized to a computer-based communication activation intervention (Healthy Babies Healthy Moms [HBHM]) or prenatal education (Baby Basics [BB]) prior to their prenatal visit. Visit communication was coded with the Roter Interaction Analysis System, and postvisit satisfaction was reported. Participants were on average 24 years of age and 25 weeks pregnant; 80% were African American. Two thirds scored ≤8th grade on a literacy screener. Women with literacy deficits were more verbally active, disclosed more medical and psychosocial/lifestyle information, and were rated as more dominant by coders in the HBHM group relative to their counterparts in the BB group (all ps <.05). Clinicians were less verbally dominant and more patient centered with literate HBHM relative to BB group women (p <.05); there was a similar, nonsignificant trend (p <.1) for lower literate women. Clinicians communicated less medical information and made fewer reassurance statements to lower literate women in the HBHM relative to the BB group (p <.05). There was a trend toward lower visit satisfaction for women with restricted literacy in the HBHM relative to the BB group (p <.1); no difference in satisfaction was evident for more literate women. The HBHM intervention empowered communication of all women and facilitated verbal engagement and relevant disclosure of medical and psychosocial information of women with literacy deficits. Satisfaction, however, tended to be lower for these women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of health communication
StatePublished - Oct 9 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Empowering Women's Prenatal Communication: Does Literacy Matter?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this