Health Literacy

Gender-Specific Health Literacy in Individuals with Migration Background: Systematic Review including a Meta-Analysis of Individual Participant Data (GLIM)

Duration : 07/2017 - 11/2019
Project Board
  • Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen
  • Coordinator: Annika Baumeister, M.Sc.
Project Team

Prof. Dr. Elke Kalbe
Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Nicole Skoetz

Funding Institution: BMBF

Federal Ministry of Education and Research


Health literacy as the ability to gain access to health information, to understand, evaluate and translate it into health-promoting behavior can contribute to a more efficient use of the health care system. Studies show that low health literacy is associated with a less frequent use of preventive measures, less pronounced compliance, more frequent hospitalization and emergency treatment, as well as an increased morbidity and mortality risk.

Social factors can also affect health care. A low social status, a low level of education, a high age and a migration background are accompanied by an increased risk of limited health literacy. Studies have also found a significant coherence between health literacy and gender and emphasize the need to tailor interventions to strengthen health literacy specifically for women and men.


The starting point of the project is the assumption that gender-specific aspects of health literacy may be more pronounced in the context of migration. Empirical research has shown that women with a migration background more often have less access to education than men with a migration background and that gender-specific role expectations can make participation in the health care system more difficult. This assumption is supported by evidence that migrant women in general have poorer health and are less likely to use preventive measures.

One goal of the project is to use systematic reviews to determine whether gender has an effect on the health literacy of people with a migration background and to identify effective interventions to promote health literacy among people with a migration background. The relationship between health literacy and gender among people with a migration background will thus be systematically investigated and meta-analyzed.

In focus group discussions with experts from the health care sector, the special needs and challenges of migrants with regard to possible gender-specific aspects of health literacy will be identified. Here, experts with and without migration background will discuss their experiences in dealing professionally with people with a migration background. The results of the systematic reviews as well as the focus group discussions will help to define possibilities to develop health literacy promotion tailored to the specific needs of people with a migration background.


Annika Baumeister, M.Sc.

ceres – Cologne Center for Ethics, Rights, Economics, and Social Sciences of Health
Universitätsstr. 91
D-50931 Köln

+49 (0)228 - 73 66236