, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 939-948
Date: 11 Jul 2013

Health literacy and substance use in young Swiss men

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The purpose of the present study was to describe health literacy and its association with substance use among young men.


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.


Roughly 22 % reported having searched the Internet for health information and 16 % for information on substances over the past 12 months. 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.


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.