News & Events
April 28, 2016
Accelerating the health literacy agenda in Europe

A group of experts of the European Parliament, European Commission, universities and local health policy makers have written a paper on health literacy, including digital health literacy. “Research shows that health literacy is still in its infancy in Europe. How can we overcome this challenge?”

Health literacy (the knowledge, motivation and competence to access, understand, appraise and apply health information) is vital for citizens when it comes to making decisions in terms of healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion.

Even though this area constitutes an emerging field for policy, research and practice, recent research shows that health literacy advancement is still in its infancy in Europe: Only 15 % of the first authors of scientific literature on health literacy is from Europe.

“Health literacy is a European public health challenge that has to be taken seriously by policy makers”, the paper states.

The authors give recommendations on how to accelerate the health literacy agenda in Europe; How can European stakeholders who are involved in research, policy, practice and education promote health literacy? “It is vital that the European Commission as well as European Union Member States take the necessary steps to increase health literacy at individual, organisational, community, regional and national levels.”

‘Digital health literacy should be carefully addressed’

The paper also discusses digital health literacy and its state of play. Co-author Terje Peetso (Health & Wellbeing, DG Connect, European Commission) says: “With the growing use of digital tools in everyday life, the importance of digital health literacy is also growing, as patients are playing a more active role in managing their health as well as their diseases. Therefore all of its aspects such as the role of internet in searching for health information and the use of mobile health apps as a source of health information, should be carefully addressed.”

Citizens’ digital health literacy is also an essential element for successful eHealth deployment.

By means of Horizon 2020, the European Commission has made €2 Million available for projects that provide support for improving digital health literacy of citizens. Thiscall is now closed, so the project(s) will be launched soon.