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. To improve health literacy for older people in Europe, this project takes stock of on-going health literacy programmes and projects in order to identify, validate and present the best ones. The 20 or so chosen interventions can be applied in the health sector and will also be part of an evidence-based guide-line for policy and practice for local, regional and national government authorities.


10-30% of European citizens have inadequate understandings of their health

Despite Europe’s comparatively high socio-economic level, between 10 and 30% of European citizens have inadequate understandings of their health, leading to higher disease and death rates, greater utilisation of health services and poorer treatment outcomes.

This alarming acknowledgement might be accentuated by the ageing of the population, which will provoke a significant increase of certain types of diseases and multimorbidity. Having the tools to access, understand, digest and critically reflect health information is a key issue to address these upcoming challenges, making of health literacy an essential driver for active and healthy ageing.

Evidence-based guidelines for policy and practice

Through a multidisciplinary approach, the project will gather interventions, methods and good practices from the health, social and commercial sectors in order to develop EU evidence-based guidelines for policy and practice to be applied at national and local levels on health literacy, patients’ empowerment and ethics. This will support the establishment of a prioritised list of appropriate interventions, which will empower the ageing population and improve communication with people with low literacy skills.

By identifying empowering and communication interventions, the project’s outcomes will make a direct contribution to the A.1 objective of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing: “Health literacy, patient empowerment, ethics and adherence”.

20 interventions to be announced in September 2014

During the first 18 months, the project partners have provided the theoretical framework for the analysis of feasible interventions, which includes an intervention model and a health literacy taxonomy. IROHLA researchers have also analysed a large number of publications regarding health literacy interventions to identify the specific objectives of those interventions.

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.

AGE's involvement in the project

AGE will work in close partnership with Eurohealthnet to contribute to the project dissemination, i.e. develop a communication strategy, organise a policy debate in Brussels and share the outcomes of the project among its network.

IROHLA Leaflet is available here.

For further information, please contact Daniel Holmberg, Maude Luherne or Ilenia Gheno.

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on health literacy interventions for older people
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