Health literacy and substance use in young Swiss men

Dermota, Petra ; Wang, Jen ; Dey, Michelle ; Gmel, Gerhard ; Studer, Joseph ; Mohler-Kuo, Meichun

In: International Journal of Public Health, 2013, vol. 58, no. 6, p. 939-948

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    Objectives: The purpose of the present study was to describe health literacy and its association with substance use among young men. Methods: The present study was part of the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors that included 11,930 Swiss males participating in initial screening from August 2010 to July 2011. Self-completed questionnaires covered use of three substances and three components of health literacy. Results: Roughly 22% reported having searched the Internet for health information and 16% for information on substances over the past 12months. At-risk and not at-risk users of alcohol (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=2.50 and 1.46), tobacco (AOR=2.51 and 1.79) and cannabis (AOR=4.86 and 3.53) searched for information about substances significantly more often via the Internet than abstainers. Furthermore, at-risk users reported better knowledge of risks associated with substance use and a marginally better ability to understand health information than abstainers. Conclusions: Substance users appear to be more informed and knowledgeable about the risks of substance use than non-users. Consequently, interventions that focus only on information provision may be of limited benefit for preventing substance use