The misunderstanding of specific vocabulary may hamper the patient-health provider communication. The 20-item Rapid Estimate Adult Literacy in Medicine and Dentistry (REALMD-20) was constructed to screen patients by their ability in reading medical/dental terminologies in a simple and rapid way. This study aimed to perform the cross-cultural adaptation and validation of this instrument for its application in Brazilian dental patients.
The cross-cultural adaptation was performed through conceptual equivalence, verbatim translation, semantic, item and operational equivalence, and back-translation. After that, 200 participants responded the adapted version of the REALMD-20, the Brazilian version of the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Dentistry (BREALD-30), ten questions of the Brazilian National Functional Literacy Index (BNFLI), and a questionnaire with socio-demographic and oral health-related questions. Statistical analysis was conducted to assess the reliability and validity of the REALMD-20 (P < 0.05).
The sample was composed predominantly by women (55.5%) and white/brown (76%) individuals, with an average age of 39.02 years old (±15.28). The average REALMD-20 score was 17.48 (±2.59, range 8–20). It displayed a good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.789) and test-retest reliability (ICC = 0.73; 95% CI [0.66 − 0.79]). In the exploratory factor analysis, six factors were extracted according to Kaiser’s criterion. The factor I (eigenvalue = 4.53) comprised four terms— “Jaundice”, “Amalgam”, “Periodontitis” and “Abscess”—accounted for 25.18% of total variance, while the factor II (eigenvalue = 1.88) comprised other four terms—“Gingivitis”, “Instruction”, “Osteoporosis” and “Constipation”—accounted for 10.46% of total variance. The first four factors accounted for 52.1% of total variance. The REALMD-20 was positively correlated with the BREALD-30 (Rs = 0.73, P < 0.001) and BNFLI (Rs = 0.60, P < 0.001). The scores were significantly higher among health professionals, more educated people, and individuals who reported good/excellent oral health conditions, and who sought preventive dental services. Distinctly, REALMD-20 scores were similar between both participants who visited a dentist <1 year ago and ≥1 year. Also, REALMD-20 was a significant predictor of self-reported oral health status in a multivariate logistic regression model, considering socio-demographic and oral health-related confounding variables.
The Brazilian version of the REALMD-20 demonstrated adequate psychometric properties for screening dental patients in relation to their recognition of health specific terms. This instrument can contribute to identify individuals with important dental/medical vocabulary limitations in order to improve the health education and outcomes in a person-centered care model.