Background: National policies seek to involve older Australian’s in decisions regarding their care; however, research has found varying levels of decision self-efficacy and health literacy skills. An increasing number of older Australians use complementary medicine (CM). We examined the effectiveness of a CM educational intervention delivered using a web or DVD plus booklet format to increase older adults’ decision self-efficacy and health literacy.

Methods: A randomised controlled trial was conducted. We recruited individuals aged over 65years living in retirement villages or participating in community groups, in Sydney Australia. Participants were randomly allocated to receive a CM education intervention delivered using a website or DVD plus booklet versus booklet only. The primary outcome was decision self-efficacy. A secondary outcome included the Preparation for Decision-Making scale and health literacy. Outcomes were collected at 3 weeks, and 2 months from baseline, and analysed using an adjusted ANOVA, or repeated measures ANOVA.

Result: We randomised 153 participants. Follow up at 3 weeks and 2 months was completed by 131 participants. There was a 14% (n =22) attrition rate. At the end of the intervention, we found no significant differences between groups for decision self-efficacy (mean difference (MD) 3.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) -2.0 to 9.6 p =0.20), there were no differences between groups on nine health literacy domains, and the Preparation for Decision-Making scale. Over 80% of participants in both groups rated the content as excellent or good.

Conclusion: Decision self-efficacy improved for participants, but did not differ between groups. Decision self-efficacy and health literacy outcomes were not influenced by the delivery of education using a website, DVD or booklet. Participants found the resources useful, and rated the content as good or excellent. CM Web or DVD and booklet resources have the potential for wider application.

Trial registration: The trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN (ACTRN12616000135415). The trial was registered on 5 February 2016.


randomised controlled trial, health literacy, complementary medicine, decision making

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