Health Literacy and Knowledge of Female Reproduction in Undergraduate Students

Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 2018


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Adequate health literacy is essential for making informed decisions about sexual and reproductive health. Unfortunately, few studies have examined the relationship between literacy and knowledge of female reproduction. The purpose of this study is to examine the correlation between health literacy and knowledge of basic female reproduction, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections (STI), while also considering factors that may influence knowledge such as gender and type of previous sex education. The Newest Vital Sign (NVS) health literacy tool, the Knowledge of the Female Body (KFB) scale, contraceptive knowledge questions, STI prevention knowledge questions, and sexual history questions were distributed to students at a small Midwestern university. Ninety-five percent of the participants (N =323) demonstrated adequate health literacy. NVS and KFB scores were positively correlated, r =. 200, p< 0.01 and male participants demonstrated significant lower KFB scores than female participants (p < .001). There is no relationship between the type of previous sex education and health literacy or basic knowledge of female reproduction, contraceptive knowledge, or STI knowledge. Participants that do not identify with their biological sex and participants with previous pregnancies demonstrated lower knowledge, or STI knowledge. Although most students demonstrated adequate literacy, major gaps exist in reproductive knowledge of undergraduate students. Healthcare providers need to be aware of potential gaps in students’ knowledge and to be prepared to provide comprehensive, easy to understand information on sexual and reproductive health.



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