An upcoming European web portal supports health literacy


EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2015. The IROHLA project aims to have an impact on the way we deliver health services to older people in Europe, helping them to better manage their own health. The project is the winner in the European category of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2015.

The article series spreads good practices by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2015.

Health literacy is getting more and more attention in health care in Europe. Because the ageing population is increasing, the number of people who have to manage a chronic disease for years is strongly on the rise.

"Nowadays people are expected to make decisions about their own health and when they are sick, to manage their own recovery process," says Dr. Jaap Koot is the Project Coordinator of the IROHLA (Intervention Research on Health Literacy of the Ageing population in Europe) project. He works in the Department of Health Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen.

Health literacy is widely needed

The people who need to be most health literate, have often problems with health literacy.
"Research shows that older people have lower health literacy. They find it difficult to find their way in the health care system and to follow advice for treatment of disease," explains Dr. Koot.

Additionally, the winning project has shown that health literacy is not only involving the older person, but also his or her family, neighbourhood, the health care professionals, and even the managers of health institutions.

"The way health workers communicate and the way we organise our health system can make a huge difference in the way clients or patients benefit from the services," underlines Dr. Koot.

Diversity is a challenge

By the end of the project (December 2015), IROHLA brings together a lot of practical knowledge and advice in a new web-based portal accessible for people from all over Europe.

"Although health systems are different; education and training settings are diverse; social security systems vary and cultures and languages are not similar, we expect to give good recommendations for addressing health literacy for older people in national policies," states Dr. Koot.

On 17 November 2015, IROHLA will host a conference 'Towards Sustainable Health Systems: The IROHLA evidence-based guidelines on improving health literacy in the ageing population' in Brussels, Belgium. More information on the conference website.

IROHLA project

Project Coordinator:
Department of Health Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, Dr. Jaap Koot

Project partners:
Several European universities, public health institutions, civil society organisations and commercial organisations.

Project website
IROHLA on Twitter

Every year, EAEA hands out the EAEA Grundtvig Award to successful projects in adult education. In 2015, three projects were awarded with a prize: an international, a European and a national initiative. The theme of this year’s award was Adult Education and Health.

Interview: Aura Vuorenrinne
Photo: IROHLA, Aura Vuorenrinne