The importance of leisure reading to health sciences students: results of a survey

Health Info Libr J. 2016 Mar;33(1):33-48. doi: 10.1111/hir.12129. Epub 2015 Dec 14.


Objective: To determine what value health sciences students place on leisure reading, whether they prefer to read online or in print, what the principal barriers are to their reading and whether they wish to have a leisure reading collection at their health sciences library.

Methods: In October 2010, a link to a survey was sent to all 1800 students in health sciences professional programmes at the author's institution.

Results: Two hundred and thirteen students (11.8%) responded. Most felt that leisure reading had helped in their development as health professionals and increased their empathy. They listed many benefits of reading, such as improved understanding of minority groups, reduced stress, and improved thinking and communication skills. The majority preferred to read books and magazines in print, while the largest number preferred reading newspapers in print as well. Lack of time, fatigue and the expense of purchasing reading materials were the greatest barriers to reading. A majority of students were in favour of having a leisure reading collection set up at their library.

Conclusions: Leisure reading was valued by the respondents, who felt it provided personal and professional benefits. However, many indicated that circumstances made it difficult to participate in leisure reading.

Keywords: attitude to health; health; students; surveys.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Books
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Libraries, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Library Collection Development
  • Male
  • Reading*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Young Adult