Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Jeanne M Erickson

Committee Members

Kris A Barnekow, Joshua Gwon, Carol G Klingbeil

Abstract

Limited health literacy and alcohol use increase adolescents’ risk for preventable disease burden and adverse outcomes. The Framework for Studying Adolescent Health Literacy (Manganello, 2008) guided this cross-sectional study focused on relationships between high school students’ health literacy and alcohol use. The aims were to describe health literacy in a sample of high school students, explore relationships between health literacy and individual traits, and examine relationships between health literacy and alcohol use. Health literacy was assessed with the Newest Vital Sign. Alcohol use was assessed with questions from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. An electronic survey was used to collect data from 39 students (response rate = 5.3%, 39/737) attending a private Midwest high school during the spring of 2020. Most students (76.9%, 30/39) had adequate health literacy. Males were more likely to have adequate health literacy than females, but there were no other differences in health literacy based on individual traits. Many students (42.9%, 15/35) reported drinking, and 18.2% (6/33) reported drinking in the past 30 days. Lifetime and current alcohol use were comparable between students with adequate and limited health literacy. There were no differences in alcohol use based on students’ health literacy. Only students with adequate health literacy reported drinking before age 13 years (15.4%, 2/13), drug or alcohol use (42.8%, 3/7) and alcohol use (20.0%, 1/5) before last sexual intercourse. Only students with adequate health literacy reported binge drinking (10.3%, 3/29), riding with someone under the influence (17.9%, 5/28), and drinking and driving (10.5%, 2/19) in the past 30 days. In conclusion, even students with adequate health literacy engage in unsafe alcohol use. Parents, educators, and clinicians need to monitor all students for warning signs of alcohol use and misuse. This study adds evidence about health literacy and alcohol use in students at one high school.

Available for download on Wednesday, June 23, 2021

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