University of Tasmania

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Health literacy of undergraduate health profession students in Australia: A comparison of the island state of Tasmania and other Australian universities

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 21:20 authored by Carey MatherCarey Mather, Tracy DouglasTracy Douglas, Jacques, A

The aim was to explore the health literacy of undergraduate health profession students enrolled at the only university based on the Island of Tasmania and compared with students enrolled at other universities on the main island of Australia. The data was collected as a part of a larger international survey of tertiary health profession students. Capture of baseline evidence about levels of health literacy was to provide direction for how and when to incorporate core and specialised health literacy content into the health profession curriculum to promote work-readiness.

This study was a cross-sectional descriptive online survey using a previously validated tool known as the Health Literacy Questionnaire. Variables influence health literacy status of students across Australia, including age, course enrolled in, and language spoken at home. In addition, health status, socio-economic status, and level of parental education influenced health literacy amongst students in Tasmania. These findings were relatively consistent with previous findings of other studies in Australia and other countries reporting health literacy status of health profession students.

There is a need to integrate health literacy early in the curriculum of all health courses offered at the University of Tasmania. Medical students consistently demonstrated higher levels of health literacy compared with other health profession students, however, all health students reported health literacy deficiencies. Curriculum design needs to consider the nature of the student cohort with essential foundation modules embedded into the first year of health courses. Specialised modules addressing discipline-specific information also need to be integrated throughout each health profession curriculum.


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School of Nursing


Elsevier BV

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Crown Copyright. Published by Elsevier Sp.z o.o. on behalf of Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Social structure and health; Behaviour and health; Health status (incl. wellbeing)