Oral health literacy among third-level university students in cork city; Ireland



Health literacy is considered a social determinant of population health, but also relates to making informed health decisions. Little information is available on the oral health literacy (OHL) among young adults, and this is crucial to inform targeted interventions on oral health and care.


This study (i) estimates the prevalence of OHL among the third-level university students in Cork City and (ii) identifies determinants of OHL by exploring potential correlates.


All students in University College Cork (~ 21000) were sent out a previously validated questionnaire through the online Lime Survey in April 2018 (n = 1487). Both descriptive and inferential statistics (chi-squared/correlation) were undertaken. OHL score was calculated as adequate (2.1–3.0), marginal (1.1–2.0) or inadequate (0.0–1.0) in regard to the scores attained by the individuals.


Adequate OHL prevalence was 23%. OHL was significantly correlated with age (r = 0.10), major discipline (r = − 0.13) and frequency of dental visits (r = − 0.08). Male gender, younger age group and those in non-medical schools had significantly higher inadequate OHL.


Approximately, one-in-four third-level university students in Cork City have adequate OHL which is lower compared to the general Irish population but still significantly high in specific groups.

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Correspondence to Mekha Ann Mathew.

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Mathew, M.A., Kabir, Z. Oral health literacy among third-level university students in cork city; Ireland. Ir J Med Sci (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-021-02505-6

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  • Health literacy
  • Ireland
  • Oral health literacy
  • Oral health promotion
  • Public health