Diabetes Literacy: self-management education for a healthier life


EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2015. 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.

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


Diabetes mellitus is the fourth largest cause of death in the European Union. About 32 million people in the EU live with diabetes, almost 50 percent of whom are unaware of their condition. Treatment of diabetes is costly and amounts to 5 to 15 percent of the total health expenditure of European countries.

Health literacy plays a key role in diabetes treatment

Education on self-management has shown very positive outcomes. However, the cost-effectiveness of these interventions is not sufficiently substantiated. Furthermore, the success of a diabetes education program also depends on the quality of its implementation, including implementation fidelity. The (cost) effectiveness of diabetes self-management education depends on various patient characteristics and contextual conditions. The level of health literacy plays a key role.

Assessing and comparing diabetes self-management education methods

The Diabetes Literacy project aims to assess and compare the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different methods for diabetes self-management education (individual and group education, IT based education, and self-help), assess the implementation fidelity of current diabetes self-management education programmes, consider the moderating role of health literacy in self-management education for diabetic patients, and develop and test literacy-appropriate diabetes education materials. It will also assess the conditions for effectiveness of self-management education programs in the way the health services are organised.

To tackle the disease, the Diabetes Literacy project seeks to reach numerous objectives:

  • Perform a systematic and comparative content analysis of the national diabetes strategies and frameworks across all EU Member States;
  • Establish a compendium of diabetes self-management education programs in the EU;
  • Calculate the costs of diabetes education at present on a per person basis at a national level;
  • Assess the relative effectiveness of existing individual, group, and IT based diabetes self-management education and self-help programs;
  • Assess of the moderating impact of low health literacy on the effectiveness of diabetes self-management programs;
  • Assess the role of multidisciplinary competent health professionals, efficient patient follow-up systems, and evaluation of services as conditions for effectiveness of diabetes self-management education programs;
  • Assess the implementation fidelity of current diabetes self-management education programs and the possibility for adaptation to cultural context;
  • Test effectiveness of literacy-appropriate diabetes self-management education materials;
  • Make recommendations for the development of best practice models for diabetes self-management education as part of a comprehensive diabetes strategy at EU level.


Project coordinator:

The Diabetes Literacy Consortium of Research, Stephan Van den Broucke

Project partners:

  • UCD Dublin, Ireland
  • University of California - San Francisco, USA
  • Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
  • CLALIT Health Services, Israel
  • University of South Hampton, United Kingdom
  • Ludwig Boltzman Institute of Health Promotion Research, Austria
  • Maastricht University, The Netherlands
  • Taipei Medical University, Taiwan