Health literacy plays an important role in personal and community health. Since university is a turning point when young adults begin to take responsibility for their own health, understanding university students’ health literacy levels is crucial. To this end, we aimed to explore health literacy and its associated factors among Palestinian university students. We conducted a cross-sectional study at Birzeit University in the Ramallah district. We recruited 472 students using convenience sampling at six on-campus cafeterias. The 44-item Arabic version of the Health Literacy Questionnaire was used to measure students’ health literacy levels, while a locally developed distress scale was used to measure students’ distress levels. We stratified the multiple regression model for the health literacy score by gender. Students’ average total health literacy score was 135.3 (SD 20.9), with male students scoring significantly higher than female students. A higher health literacy score was significantly associated with having a father with a higher level of education, a higher frequency of medical checkups, higher self-reported health status, and consulting a higher number of sources for health-related information. High distress levels were associated with lower levels of health literacy, especially among female students. This study provides the first evidence on Palestinian university students’ health literacy levels. Tailored health education and promotion are required for students with low parental education and moderate to high distress. Future research is required to explain the gender differences in health literacy and distress among university students.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact [email protected]