n Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery - Health literacy knowledge and experiences of nursing students at a South African University - research

Volume 21 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1682-5055



A worldwide high prevalence of low health literacy has been reported, and despite the emergence of health literacy as a better determinant of health than socio-economic status, it is alarming that little attention is being accorded to training health workers on health literacy practices. This study thus sought to describe the health literacy knowledge and experiences of nursing students gained during training in order to establish a basis that will inform future health literacy training. A descriptive cross-sectional survey was carried out using a questionnaire to establish the health literacy knowledge and experience of 82 nursing students. Data were analysed using descriptive as well as inferential statistics. The students exhibited unsatisfactory health literacy knowledge as measured by the questionnaire, with an average score of 73 per cent, with knowledge gaps in some areas – for example with regard to the effect of low health literacy on patient health outcomes and identification of patients with low health literacy. Their health literacy experience was also lacking, with students only reporting some experience in the use of written materials in providing patient education. The results portray that the emphasis of health literacy in the curriculum failed to have a sufficient effect on health literacy knowledge.

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