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