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. med. Christiane Woopen
Coordinator: Annika Baumeister, M.Sc.

Project Team

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


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 presumption that health literacy might be less pronounced among migrant women. Empirical research has shown that this target group may find it especially difficult to access the health system due to gender-specific role expectations and hindered access to education. This assumption is supported by indications that migrant women in general are in a poorer state of health and less likely to make use of precautionary 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. In two expert workshops, the special needs and challenges of migrants will be elaborated with regard to possible gender-specific aspects of health literacy. In separate focus groups, both migrants themselves as well as experts from science and practice will discuss their experiences and necessities. Based on this, first strategies will be developed to promote health literacy of both women and men with a migration history.


Annika Baumeister, M.Sc.

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

+49 (0)221 - 470 89139
annika.baumeister [at]