Health literacy among pregnant women in the United Arab Emirates: The Mutaba’ah study

Iffat Elbarazi, Zufishan Alam, Nasloon Ali, Tom Loney, Rami H. Al-Rifai, Fatma Al-Maskari, Luai A. Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Health literacy is the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, understand, and communicate health-related information. Health literacy among pregnant women, in particular, may have a significant impact on maternal and child health. In the United Arab Emirates, no previous studies have been carried out to investigate the health literacy levels of pregnant women. Objective: This study aimed to investigate antenatal health literacy levels and identify associated factors among pregnant Emirati women in the United Arab Emirates. Design: This analysis was based on the baseline cross-sectional data for pregnant women participating in the prospective cohort Mutaba’ah Study, recruited between May 2017 and August 2022. Methods: Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire during their antenatal visits that collected sociodemographic and pregnancy-related information. Adequacy of health literacy was assessed using the BRIEF health literacy screening tool with adequate health literacy defined as a score ⩾ 17. Regression modeling investigated the association between the pregnant women characteristics with having adequate health literacy level (ability to read and comprehend most patient education materials). Results: A total of 2694 responses to the BRIEF health literacy screening tool were analyzed. Approximately, three-quarters (71.6%) of respondents showed adequate health literacy, followed by marginal (22.8%), and limited (5.6%) health literacy levels, respectively. Higher education levels (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.74, 95% confidence interval = 1.46–2.08), employment (adjusted odds ratio = 1.35, 95% confidence interval = 1.10–1.65), and adequate social support (adjusted odds ratio = 1.69, 95% confidence interval = 1.26–2.28) were associated with adequate health literacy levels. Participants who expressed worry about birth were less likely to have adequate literacy levels (adjusted odds ratio = 0.70, 95% confidence interval = 0.58–0.85). Conclusion: Nearly three-quarters of pregnant women have adequate health literacy. Nevertheless, measures including policies to sustain and enhance health literacy levels among all expectant mothers are required, with a specific focus on those having limited health literacy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen's Health
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2024


  • United Arab Emirates
  • health literacy
  • pregnancy
  • pregnant women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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