Assessing oral health literacy of university nursing students: A cross-sectional exploratory study

Grace Wong, Tebbin (Fung) Koo, Judith Fethney, Rebecca Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Research has proven a link between oral health and numerous chronic systemic diseases. To achieve better health outcomes, there is a need to involve interprofessional primary health care providers, such as nurses to raise awareness and promote oral health. Nurses have regular contact with patients which provides a unique opportunity to impart disease-specific information and technical skills for patients to self-manage their oral health conditions. However, the baseline oral health literacy of undergraduate nursing students at the University of Sydney is not known. Before creating a targeted curriculum to improve oral health literacy amongst nursing students, it is essential to assess the baseline oral health knowledge of these students. This study aimed to assess the oral health literacy level among undergraduate nursing students of the University of Sydney, Australia. Design: An exploratory research approach was used. Methods: A cross-sectional survey study was conducted using the validated Comprehensive Measure of Oral Health Knowledge (CMOHK) instrument. A univariate general linear model was used to explore the association of CMOHK total score with demographic and educational variables. Results: A total number of 197 nursing students participated in the survey, with a mean CMOHK score of 15.48, SD 3.27. 72% were categorized as having good, 16% fair and 12% poor oral health knowledge. The analysis from the six individual knowledge domains of the CMOHK revealed lower percentages of correct responses in the periodontal disease and oral cancer knowledge domains. Students with English as their second language, on average, scored 2 fewer correct responses (p <.001) than students whose first language was English. Low socioeconomic status was not associated with a low level of oral health literacy. Conclusion: The baseline results show a good level of general oral health knowledge as measured by the CMOHK. However, periodontal disease and oral cancer were identified as the particular domains where a knowledge gap exists. These findings may help to map and design an oral health education intervention to improve oral health literacy amongst nursing students. Culturally responsive pedagogy may need to be considered for students with English as their second language. This baseline survey data may potentially facilitate integrating oral health in nursing education and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103066
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Early online date27 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing oral health literacy of university nursing students: A cross-sectional exploratory study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this