The Impact of a Substance Use Prevention Program on the Health Literacy of Youth in Guatemala City

Steven Hoffman, Flavio F. Marsiglia


Low health literacy is a major public health concern with serious human and economic implications. Unfortunately, in developing countries little is known about health literacy, and there are often no educational programs to promote it. This report explores the influence of an already existing substance use intervention on the health literacy of youth living in Guatemala City. T-test results indicated that students who went through the substance use prevention program had significantly higher scores on the health literacy assessment than their peers. Likewise, participation in the program significantly predicted differences in health literacy, even when accounting for academic performance and parent education. These findings are of particular importance to resource-poor countries. If health education and prevention programs that are already being utilized are found to have a positive impact on health literacy, policy makers could potentially address two significant public health issues with a single evidence-based program.

Full Text:



Baum, N., Rotter, B., Reidler, E., & Brom. D. (2009). Building resilience in schools in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 2(1), 62-70.

Cohen, J. (1998). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Geelhoed, D., Decroo, T., Dezembro, S., Matias, H., Lessitala, F., Muzila, F., … Capobianco, E. (2013). Utilization of and barriers to HIV and MCH services among community ART group members and their families in Tete, Mozambique. AIDS Research and Treatment, 1-8.

Heinrich, C. (2012). Health literacy: The sixth vital sign. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 24, 218-223.

Hoffman, S., Marsiglia, F. F., Lambert, M. C., & Porta, M. (2015). A psychometric assessment of the Newest Vital Sign among youth in Guatemala City. Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior, 3, 1-4.

Internet World Stats. (2012). Guatemala. Retrieved from am/gt.htm

Jordan, J. E., Osborne, R. H., & Buchbinder. (2011). Critical appraisal of health literacy indices revealed variable underlying constructs, narrow content and psychometric weaknesses. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 64, 366-379.

Kaiser Family Foundation. (2015). Global health facts. Retrieved from

Manganello, J. A. (2008). Health literacy and adolescents: A framework and agenda for future research. Health Education Research, 23, 840-847.

Marsiglia, F. F., Booth, J. M., Ayers, S. L., Nuno-Gutierrez, B. L., Kulis, S., & Hoffman, S. (2014). Short-term effects on substance use of the Keepin’ it REAL pilot prevention program: linguistically adapted for youth in Jalisco, Mexico. Prevention Science, 15, 694-704.

Matuszek, S. (2010). Animal-facilitated therapy in various patient populations. Systematic literature review. Holistic Nursing Practice, 24(4), 187-203.

National Institutes of Health. (2015). Research portfolio online reporting tools. Retrieved from

Nielsen-Bohlman, L., Pannzer, A. M., & Kindig, D. A. (2004). Health literacy: A prescription to end confusion. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.

Palacios, B. E. X. (2014). Lights and shadows of the education reform process in Bolivia and Guatemala (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from

Trout, A. L., Hoffman, S., Epstein, M. H., & Nelson, T. D. (2014). Health literacy in high-risk youth: A descriptive study of children in residential care. Child and Youth Services, 35, 1-11.

US Central Intelligence Agency. (2015). The world factbook. Retrieved from

Vernon, J., Trujillo, A., Rosenbaum, S., & DeBuono, B. (2007). Low health literacy: Implications for national health policy. University of Connecticut: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Weiss, B. D., Mays, M. Z., Martz, W., Castro, K. M., DeWalt, D. A., Pignone, M. P., … Hale, F. A. (2005). Quick assessment of literacy in primary care: The newest vital sign. Annuals of Family Medicine, 3, 514-522.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

International Journal of Social Science Research (Online ISSN: 2327-5510) E-mail:

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.

Copyright © Macrothink Institute   ISSN 2327-5510