Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 11, pp 1543–1549 | Cite as

Understanding of Key Obstetric Quality Terminology by Asian and Pacific Islander Subgroups: Implications for Patient Engagement and Health Equity

  • Mary GuoEmail author
  • Michelle Quensell
  • Ann Chang
  • Jill Miyamura
  • Tetine Sentell
From the Field


Introduction Comprehension of healthcare terminology across diverse populations is critical to patient education and engagement. Methods Women in Oahu, Hawai‘i with a recent delivery were interviewed about their understanding of ten common obstetric terms. Health literacy was assessed by the rapid estimate of adult literacy in medicine (REALM). Multivariable models predicted total terms comprehended by demographic factors. Results Of 269 participants, self-reported primary race was 20.5% Japanese, 19.0% Native Hawaiian, 19.0% White, 16.7% Filipino, 11.5% other Asian, 9.7% other Pacific Islander, and 3.7% other race/ethnicity; 12.7% had low health literacy. On average, participants understood 6.0 (SD: 2.2) of ten common obstetric terms. Comprehension varied by term, ranging from 97.8% for “Breastfeeding” to 27.5% for “VBAC routinely available.” Models showed (1) being Filipino, Japanese, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander (vs. white); (2) having low (vs. adequate) health literacy; (3) having a high school (vs. a college) degree; and (4) being under 25-years-old (vs. 35 +) were significantly associated with less comprehension. Discussion Participants were unfamiliar with common obstetrics terminology. Comprehension struggles were more common among populations with maternal health disparities, including Asian and Pacific Islander subgroups, and those with low health literacy.


Patient communication Obstetrics Pacific Islanders Asians Health disparities 



This project was supported by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Grant R21 HS021903.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10995_2018_2597_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 28 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Guo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle Quensell
    • 1
  • Ann Chang
    • 2
  • Jill Miyamura
    • 3
  • Tetine Sentell
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of Public Health StudiesUniversity of Hawai’i at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health, John A. Burns School of MedicineUniversity of Hawai’iHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Hawaii Health Information CorporationHonoluluUSA

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