Our society is becoming increasingly diverse, with nearly one in four German citizens having a migration background. Previous research suggests that people with a migration history have lower health literacy. Health literacy describes how well or easily health-related information can be found, understood, evaluated, and acted upon, whether in the area of treatment and therapy, prevention, or health promotion.
A lack of good health literacy can prevent people from making optimum use of the health care system and ultimately lead to incorrect, insufficient, or excessive treatment. Risky health behaviors also depend on the level of individual health literacy. However, there is a lack of data on the possible causes and consequences of low health literacy among migrants in Germany.
The aim of the project at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Bielefeld University was to gain in-depth insights into the health literacy of people with a migration background in order to create a basis for the development of target-group-specific interventions. The study, published in January 2022, showed that the health literacy of the groups studied - people with an ex-Soviet and Turkish migration background - does not differ significantly from the general population in Germany, but tends to be better. Similar to the general population, however, health literacy is unevenly distributed: In particular, people with a low level of education or social status, older age, or chronic illness have significantly lower health literacy, as do people with personal migration experience or little knowledge of German.