Health literacy knowledge and experience of bachelor nursing students at a university in the Western Cape
Mibei, Francesca Chepkemoi
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Background: Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual has the capacity of obtaining, processing, and understanding basic health information and services needed for one to make appropriate decisions with relation to health. Health literacy is currently emerging as a major determinant of health outcomes yet it is not receiving enough attention, especially among health professionals. It is now considered a stronger predictor of health outcomes than social and economic status, education, and gender. Since nurses play a major role in providing healthcare information to patients and clients, it is imperative that nurses be prepared to face the challenges presented by individuals with poor health literacy skills. The nursing discipline is the largest segment of the health-oriented workforce and therefore, nurses have the largest responsibility of providing patient education, however, there are no education efforts targeting health professionals with regard to health literacy in South Africa. It is, therefore, imperative to establish the knowledge and experience of nurses in training in order to forge a way forward in nursing education. Aim: The overall aim of the study was to establish the health literacy knowledge and experiences of bachelor nursing students at a University in the Western Cape. Methodology: A quantitative, descriptive survey design was applied and data collection was carried out using a self-administered questionnaire. Total population sampling technique was done, the final sample was (n=82) of the fourth-year nursing students. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 23, descriptive and inferential statistics were employed. Ethics: Ethical approval was granted by the ethics research committee, thereafter permission to conduct the study at the University was obtained from the Registrar and the Director of The School of Nursing. The researcher maintained the principles of anonymity and confidentiality throughout the study. Participation was voluntary and informed consent was signed by the respondents. Results: The study found that bachelor of nursing students in Western Cape exhibited satisfactory health literacy knowledge as measured by the questionnaire, the score was 73%, with a cut-off of 70%. Knowledge gaps however existed in some areas - for example with regards to the impact of low health literacy on patient health outcomes and identification of patients with low health literacy. Their health literacy experience was, however, lacking, with students only reporting some experience in the use of written materials in providing patient education. There was a weak negative, but statistically significant relationship between health literacy knowledge and experience. Conclusion: Exposure to health literacy within the nursing curriculum needs to be more comprehensive, since the results portray that the emphasis of health literacy in the curriculum failed to have an effect on the health literacy knowledge scores, deeming it insufficient.