Many Europeans have poor health literacy. That means that they don’t have the ability to obtain, understand or use health information to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment. Poor health literacy, which disproportionately affects older people, economically underprivileged and migrants, is linked to higher rates of hospital readmission, expensive and unnecessary complications, and even death.
Trying to tackle the burning issue of low levels of health literacy in Europe, researchers in the major European IROHLA project are currently assessing the quality and feasibility of a large number of practices to improve health literacy competencies among the ageing population in Europe.
During the 2nd European Health Literacy Conference, which took place on 10-11 April in Aarhus, Denmark, the IROHLA team presented the best practices that had already been identified and discussed why they had been selected. AGE was there to help disseminate the project findings to the research community, policy makers and opinion formers.
The large list of best practices that the research team is currently working on will be narrowed down during the months to come, and the best 20 available methods will be presented in September 2014. These so called interventions can be applied by health professionals and providers of health literacy interventions to address the health literacy needs of the ageing population in Europe.
Once the 20 interventions have been presented, the next step will be to produce a guideline for policy and practice at national, regional and local level, which will show policymakers which specific measures they can take to improve health literacy among older people in Europe.
The IROHLA project will run until November 2015. For more information on the project, please go to www.irohla.eu. You can also visit the European Health Literacy Conference website for more information www.healthliteracyeurope.net.