Student Health and Social Care Professionals’ Health Literacy Knowledge: An Exploratory Study

Helen Wood, Gabrielle Brand, Rhonda Marise Clifford, Sinead Kado, Kenneth Lee, Liza Seubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Health literacy is essential for shared decision-making and improved health outcomes, and patients with inadequate health literacy often need additional support from health and social care professionals. Despite global calls for developing tertiary-level health literacy education, the extent of this in Australian health and social care professional degrees is unknown. This research explored students’ health literacy knowledge across five health and social care professional disciplines. A web-based questionnaire was disseminated to student health and social care professionals enrolled in one of two Australian universities. Questions explored students’ factual and conceptual health literacy knowledge, and responses were inductively themed and reported descriptively. Of the 90 students who participated, the depth of health literacy knowledge was low. Students frequently identified understanding as components of health literacy; however, most students did not identify health information access, appraisal and use. Additionally, students’ knowledge of helping patients with inadequate health literacy was limited. Adjusting patient education to their health literacy level and evaluating patient understanding was poorly understood. Without a solid understanding of fundamental health literacy principles, newly-graduated health and social care professionals will be poorly equipped to facilitate patients’ health literacy-related challenges in the community. Further exploration of health literacy education is urgently recommended to identify areas for improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • health literacy
  • health care professional
  • social care professionals
  • health education

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