health literacy; patient teaching; nursing; nursing education; nursing students


Background: Health literacy is defined as one’s ability to find, comprehend, and utilize information to make health decisions (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, n.d.). Globally, nursing students are exposed to the concept of health literacy during their degree-seeking years, yet no formal health literacy education exists across nursing curricula in pre-licensure programs at the associate and bachelor levels. This lack of standardization and non-emphasis of health literacy as a formal topic within education has contributed to poor provider performance and, in turn, low health literacy rates that may lead to suboptimal patient outcomes.

Significance: Studies have found that “approximately 80 million Americans have limited health literacy, which puts them at greater risk for poorer access to care and poorer health outcomes” (Berkman et al., 2011). Since the late 1990s, these poor outcomes have led to those of limited health literacy to become more likely to be admitted than those of adequate health literacy levels, which are all preventable consequences of an overlooked public health matter (Baker et al., 1998).

Methods: A multi-database search on CINAHL, ERIC, and MEDLINE was conducted using key terms such as “students, nursing”, “nurs*”, “patient education” and “skill”. After a final full text review, 12 articles were deemed appropriate for inclusion in this literature review on self-efficacy of nursing students regarding health literacy and patient education.

Conclusion: The studies analyzed for this review demonstrate positive benefits from a multi-modal approach to health literacy education within nursing curricula. Student perspectives revealed foundational skills regarding health literacy but limited support from faculty and curricula in further developing knowledge on the subject, relying instead on students’ independent learning through clinical experiences.

Implications for Nursing: Further research may aim to examine the effectiveness of a standardized health literacy curriculum across a variety of nursing programs as well as its longitudinal effects on students’ self-efficacy and quality patient-teaching as they transition into licensed practice.

Thesis Completion Year


Thesis Completion Semester


Thesis Chair

Turnage, Dawn


College of Nursing



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Access Status

Open Access

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Campus Location

Orlando (Main) Campus



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In Copyright