Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017
Status of Health Literacy in undergraduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Health: implications for improving the curriculum to enable future graduates to be work-ready
Carey Mather, School of Health Sciences
Tracy Douglas, School of Health Sciences
Anne-Marie Williams, School of Medicine
Elizabeth Cummings, School of Health Sciences
Aries Soria, School of Health Sciences
Angela Jacques, Notre Dame University, Western Australia
Making a Difference for Students
Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre
Health literacy is a topic of increasing interest within healthcare environments as low levels of health literacy in populations contribute to poor health outcomes. In 2014, the University of Tasmania participated in a global study, to determine the health literacy status of health profession students (Dixon 2014). A previously validated online questionnaire (Osborne et al 2013) was completed by 779 undergraduate Faculty of Health Science students.
Differences in health literacy of participants with respect to age, language spoken at home, country of birth, stated health issue, level of education attained by parents and course enrolled in were found. Medical students reported the highest levels of health literacy compared to other cohorts, and whether or not a student had a stated health issue had a significant effect on their ability to understand, navigate and engage in the healthcare system.
The study indicated that certain cohorts of undergraduate Faculty of Health students were ill-equipped to engage with healthcare providers and/or they felt unsupported with the management of their own health. Additionally, some students reported they had gaps in their knowledge of health literacy and/or did not necessarily have the skills to navigate the healthcare system effectively or be able to advocate for optimal healthcare. As future health professionals, it is important to be aware of and address these deficiencies in health literacy, which are apparent among students within the Faculty.
These findings show potential for curriculum innovation and integration of health literacy skills to enable our graduating students to be work-ready. Supporting health profession students in first year units to develop a foundation level of health literacy prior to engagement in work integrated learning will enhance their active learning experiences. This may be achieved by developing a health literacy resource constructively aligned to their curriculum which can be accessed by all health students. Reviewed curriculum to enhance student learning in healthcare environments is imperative as work-integrated learning is now integral to all Faculty of Health courses.
Dixon, R. 2014. Exploring health literacy in tertiary students: an international study. The University of Auckland. Retrieved from https://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/en/faculty/health-literacy-project.html .
Osborne, R.H., Batterham, R.W., Elsworth, G.R., Hawkins, M. & Buchbinder, R. 2013. The grounded psychometric development and initial validation of the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ). BMC Public Health, 13(1), p.658.