Health Literacy Knowledge and Perceptions Among College Students

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Introduction: Health literacy is the ability to read, understand, and use health care information to make appropriate health care decisions. It is the optimal currency for understanding and navigating the health care system. Ninety million Americans lack adequate levels of health literacy. Little research has been done on health literacy among citizens of the southeast United States, particularly young adults. Further, studies that have measured health literacy and its impact on the use of health care services and health outcomes have not included college students. Since young adult college students are just beginning to make lifelong health care decisions, the university setting is ideal for studying and promoting health literacy. The purpose of this study was to examine knowledge and perceptions related to health literacy in a sample of college students. This research will enable the development of effective interventions to address deficits in health literacy for this population.
Method(s): Following a descriptive design, college students, 18 years of age or older, (n=100) participated in the study. Participants completed the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (STOFHLA), open ended descriptive questions, and demographic questions. The STOFHLA includes two functional health reading comprehension passages and has a 0.97 Chronbach's Alpha (0.94 for passage A and 0.97 for passage B). An online survey method was used to collect data.
Results: Correlations and multiple regression analyses identified significant relationships among demographic variables, specific life experiences, and levels of health literacy. Qualitative analyses also revealed themes unique to young adults among data from the open ended descriptive questions.
Discussion: Information on health literacy among college students is important to understand needs for health promotion and self-care. This research will enable the development of effective interventions to address such deficits in health literacy.


Southern Nursing Research Society Annual Conference (SNRS)


Baltimore, MD

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