European policy for improving health literacy successful in areas of health and education

Nivel recently participated in a WHO project that inventoried the evidence on existing policies and linked activities and their effectiveness for improving health literacy at national, regional and organizational levels in the WHO European Region. Jany Rademakers co-authored this WHO Health Evidence Network Synthesis report.

In the project, 46 existing and/or developing policies were identified in 19 of the Member States of the European Union. Evidence is emerging of successful activities to build health literacy at the individual and community levels, particularly in the areas of health and education.
However, there is currently little evidence of activities and effectiveness in the areas of the lived environment, the media and digital/e-health literacy. In the report a more holistic approach towards health literacy, covering different areas, is recommended, as well as the development of adequate measures for rigorous evaluation.

Health literacy
Health literacy is the capacity of individuals, families and communities to make sound health decisions in the context of everyday life. This can be both at home and at the workplace, and in the community, marketplace, health care system and political arena.