Strengthening Health Literacy in Germany

Half of the population have trouble understanding, and handling appropriately, health-related information. The National Action Plan - Health Literacy shows how health literacy in Germany can be improved.

Robert Bosch Stiftung | February 2018
Anita Back

From left: Kai Kolpatzik, Uta-Micaela Dürig, Germann Gröhe, Doris Schaeffer, and Klaus Hurrelmann.

The National Action Plan - Health Literacy has just been presented in Berlin; it shows lawmakers, decision-makers in academia, and practitioners how to improve health literacy in Germany. This is a relevant endeavor as every second person has trouble understanding, for instance, patient information leaflets enclosed in drug packaging or assessing health-related information in the media. The consequence is incorrect behavior that subsequently increases the risk of becoming ill.

The National Action Plan - Health Literacy is based on an initiative by scientists, under the patronage of the Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe. Sponsors include the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (AOK). The action plan details 15 specific recommendations that engage with all stakeholders and aim to improve both the user-friendliness of the healthcare system and health literacy of individuals. “The National Action Plan - Health Literacy provides us with a scientific guideline on how to strengthen health literacy in this country, both in terms of education, nutrition, and the workplace, as well as mutually intelligible communication between doctors and patients,” according to Mr. Gröhe.

Anita Back

Vice Chair of the Board of Management, Uta-Micaela Dürig

Improving equity in healthcare

Vice Chair of the Board of Management, Uta-Micaela Dürig, explained in Berlin why the Robert Bosch Stiftung sponsors the action plan: “We have built increasing knowledge about what can have a positive effect on our health. Nevertheless, a large proportion of the population struggles to benefit from this knowledge in their daily lives. This makes it a pressing social responsibility to convey to citizens, and patients in particular, the knowledge they need and to provide them with the necessary orientation in an increasingly complex healthcare system. The initiative for the National Action Plan - Health Literacy has been very important to us, and we are delighted that today, not only do we have the completed action plan itself available, but strengthening health literacy and illness prevention are also expressly mentioned in the new government’s coalition agreement.”

Ms. Dürig further stated that the team of experts had included numerous excellent and necessary recommendations in the action plan and listed good practice examples such as INSEA. “We hope these ideas will also inspire others to act. We are convinced that better health literacy can not only improve people’s health, but also contribute to greater patient participation – and ultimately even indirectly help improve equity in healthcare.”