The Influence of Health Literacy on Knowledge of Cervical Cancer Prevention and Screening Practices among Female Undergraduates at a University in Southwest Nigeria
The global incidence of cancer is rising, and low-income and lower-middle-income countries have the worst figures. However, knowledge of cervical cancer prevention and cervical cancer screening practices remains poor in these regions. This study assessed the concept of health literacy as a potential determinant of knowledge of cervical cancer prevention and screening practices among female undergraduates. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among 385 female undergraduates at a university in southwest Nigeria. A validated questionnaire composed of subscales on nine components of health literacy, knowledge of cervical cancer prevention, and cervical cancer screening practices was used for data collection. The majority of the respondents obtained a high score on most of the components of health literacy and 66% had good knowledge of cervical cancer prevention. Only 11% demonstrated good practices of Pap smear testing. Of all the components of health literacy, “feeling understood and supported by healthcare providers” (OR = 0.075; 95% CI [0.036–0.115]; p = 0.015) and “understanding health information well enough to know what to do” (OR = 0.055; 95% CI [0.006–0.104]; p = 0.029) were significantly associated with knowledge of cervical cancer prevention. Out of the major challenges related to cervical cancer screening among undergraduates, the feeling of being at risk (OR = 4.71; p < 0.05) and uncomfortable experiences from past screening (OR = 0.12; p < 0.05) were significantly associated with going for cervical cancer screening. The study concluded that levels of health literacy influenced knowledge of cervical cancer prevention among female undergraduates, but it did not affect their engagement in cervical cancer screening practices.