Health Literacy and substance use among young men

A newly published study in the International Journal of Public Health sought to describe health literacy and its association with substance use among young men in Switzerland.

Data were taken from the Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors, which includes Swiss males from army recruitment centers. Data from 11,930 young adult males were collected from August 2010 to July 2011. The mean age of the sample was just below 20 years old (range 17-26). Assessments were made with a self-completed questionnaire, containing questions on health literacy and on substance use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis.

The main results are as follows:

– 22% of all young men have searched the internet for health information during the previous year

– 16% searched information on substances

– At risk users reported better knowledge of risks associated with substance use and a marginally better ability to understand health information that abstainers.

The authors conclude that 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.

What do you think? What makes people who are informed still use substances? What can be done about it? ******************************************************************************************************

This paper was written by Petra Dermota, Jen Wang, Michelle Dey, Gerhard Gmel, Joseph Studer, Meichun Mohler-Kuo

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