Summary Background The development of self-directed learning (SDL) is a growing priority among nurses and other health care workers: they need to be prepared in order for their university education to be effective and relevant to their lifelong learning. To learn in a self-directed manner, it is necessary to develop an awareness of one's ability to self-learn and then to implement appropriate and effective strategies; progress must be assessed using validated measurement tools. Objectives The aim of this study was to examine the factor structure of the Italian version of the Self-Rating Scale of Self-directed Learning (SRSSDLIta), and to provide evidence of its validity. Design A cross-sectional design was undertaken. Participants Given that the instrument is composed of 60 items, a total of 600 to 900 participants were targeted. In addition, according to the theoretical assumption that self-directed learning — as a crucial component of lifelong learning — is a measurable skill that is developed across the individual's professional life, a maximum variation sample was examined. Therefore, 847 participants were involved, including 453 nurses, 141 radiology technicians, 182 nursing students and 68 radiology technician students. Methods Principal component analysis and factor analysis were performed. Results The Italian version of the SRSSDL Scale consists of 40 items composed of eight factors: Awareness (α=0.805), Attitudes (α=0.778), Motivation (α=0.789), Learning Strategies (α=0.789), Learning Methods (α=0.781), Learning Activities (α=0.676), Interpersonal Skills (α=0.684), and Constructing Knowledge (α=0.732). Conclusions The SRSSDLIta consists of 40 items across eight factors. The shorter Italian version might reduce the time needed to complete, thereby making the tool faster and easier to use.