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J Am Coll Health. 2010 Mar-Apr;58(5):491-8. doi: 10.1080/07448481003599104.

Health literacy in college students.

Author information

1
Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45209, USA. ickesmj@uc.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to assess the health literacy levels, and the potential importance of healthy literacy, of college students.

PARTICIPANTS:

Courses were randomly selected from all upper level undergraduate courses at a large Research I university to obtain a sample size of N = 399.

METHODS:

During the 2007-2008 school year, students were administered the Test of Functional Health Literacy (TOFHLA), which assessed both numeracy and reading comprehension utilizing real-life health care materials. The numeracy scale (n = 17) assessed understanding of prescription labels, appointment slips, and glucose monitoring using actual hospital forms and labels for prescription vials. Ten prompts were given, and participants had to answer quantitatively. The reading comprehension scale (n = 50) assessed understanding of health care texts through 3 reading passages, including instructions for preparation for an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series, Medicaid patient rights and responsibilities, and hospital informed consent agreement. A modified Cloze procedure was employed; every fifth to seventh word in each passage was omitted and the participant selected the best word to fill in the blank from a list of 4 possible choices.

RESULTS:

The mean health literacy score was 93.83, which was considered adequate functional health literacy. In terms of importance of health literacy to the students, it was found that a majority valued its importance (89.3%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Indeed this group of university students would seem to have good health literacy levels that would allow them to navigate the health care system. However, many students still had problems with individual TOFHLA items, particularly the numeracy questions.

PMID:
20304761
DOI:
10.1080/07448481003599104
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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