European Network on Measuring Health Literacy successfully started in Vienna

In February, the internationally acclaimed kick-off meeting of the “Action Network on Measuring Population and Organizational Health Literacy” took place in Vienna. On two days, 37 experts from 19 countries took important steps to prepare the next international health literacy study.

oepgk beitrag bild 4 european network on measuring

The kick-off meeting of the WHO-European Action Network on Measuring Population and Organizational Health Literacy took place at the Austrian Ministry of Health from February 22-23, 2018. The network under the umbrella of WHO-Euro‘s European Health Information Initiative (EHII) aims at preparing the next European health literacy survey for 2019. Once data are available, the network will also identify areas for improvement and suggest interventions for that purpose. Amongst others, the network will address the field of systems and organizational health literacy, or in other words, the frameworks in healthcare systems and organizations that facilitate or hamper health literacy and health-conducive decisions. Preconditions for health literacy in other sectors, especially education, will also be an issue.

The kick-off meeting was attended by 37 persons from 19 countries of the WHO-European region and was opened by Claudia Stein from WHO Euro. Guests from the OECD and the international Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study that functions as a role model for the action network also attended in active roles.

The frame for the meeting was set by lectures by Joanna Inchley (University of St. Andrews, Scotland) on HBSC, by Liliane Moreira (OECD, Paris) on a recent OECD fast track paper on health literacy, by Gillian Rowlands (University of Newcastle, England) on the interim results of an evidence synthesis of WHO-Euro’s Health Evidence Networks (HEN) on effective health literacy policies, by Jürgen Pelikan (University of Vienna) on the first European health literacy survey and by Christina Dietscher (Austrian MoH) on aims, goals and modus operandi of the newly founded network.

For most of the time, participants worked in sub groups and discussed questions in relation to the preparation of the next comparative international health literacy study that is scheduled for 2019.

The meeting closed with the adoption of the „Vienna Statement on the Measurement of Health Literacy in Europe“, an agreement on next steps on international as well as member state level, and with an outlook on the next international meeting that will take place from August 27-28 in Bern, Switzerland. For this meeting, concrete decisions in relation to the study design for 2019 are to be expected.

Interested member states can still join the network. Each participating member state should be represented with one policy and one research position. In case of further questions, please contact the author.


Author: Christina Dietscher, Acting Head of department, Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection, Chairwoman of the Austrian Health Literacy Alliance (ÖPGK)


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