Health Literacy among Health and Social Care University Students

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Mar 27;17(7):2273. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17072273.


Health literacy has been defined by the World Health Organization as the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health. Its importance in reducing inequalities makes health literacy a thematic area that should be addressed in the training of professionals in the fields of healthcare, Social Work and Education. The objective of this study was to define the health literacy levels of students from the Universities of Girona and Barcelona (Spain) and the Regional Institute of Social Work in Perpignan (France). A cross-sectional study was conducted among students of Nursing, Social Work, Primary Education and Special Education in the 2017-2018 academic year. Sociodemographic and academic variables were considered and the HLS-EU-Q16 questionnaire was used to study health literacy levels. In total, 219 students with an average age of 24.9 participated. Of these, 64.4% were studying Social Work, 23.7% Nursing, 5.9% Primary Education, and 5.9% Special Education. Of the total sample, 36.5% were classified as sufficient in health literacy. The total average score of the health literacy index was 11.1; 13.2 among Nursing students; 10.5 among Social Work students; 10.1 among Primary Education students, and 10.1 among Special Education students (p < 0.001). Nursing students obtained the best results and healthcare was the highest rated subdomain, more than disease prevention and health promotion.

Keywords: HLS-EU-Q16 questionnaire; health literacy; health literacy/classification; health promotion; students/education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • France
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spain
  • Students*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult