Health literacy in Europe

The concept, its impact and application using the example of diabetes literacy

In recent years health literacy is receiving increased attention in research, policy and practice in Europe. The outcomes of the European Health Literacy Project are presented concerning the definition, the conceptual model and the results of the European Health Literacy Survey, where health literacy was measured in eight European countries.

By providing first time comparative data on health literacy in Europe it has been possible for professionals in policy,

research and practice to develop strategies and interventions that can improve the current situation, where almost one in two face difficulties in managing health and make appropriate use of health services.

As an example of application the role of diabetes literacy in self-management programmes is being discussed.

About the referee

Dr. Kristine Sørensen is health literacy expert and project coordinator of the European Health Literacy Project (HLS-EU) hosted by the Department of International Health at Maastricht University. Other related projects are the Collaborative Venture on Health Literacy, which integrates health literacy into business action and corporate social responsibility, the Diabetes Literacy Project supported by the European Commission, and the study on health literacy and the right to access to health in collaboration with Council of Europe.

She has acted as advisor on health literacy for the WHO, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Centre of Disease Control and other international organizations. She has recently received the European Health Award for the outstanding social and political impact of the European health literacy project.

Kristine Sørensen has an educational background in medicine, public health and global health diplomacy. She prefers working with cross-cutting health and development issues and being engaged in the civil society and community she has held honorary positions at national, regional and world level. Currently, apart from her involvement in Bridge4Health she is member of the advisory board for 50 schools in her local region of Limburg in the Netherland and focal point for Health Literacy Europe, a network advancing health literacy in Europe.