Health literacy and education

Health literacy can be defined as the capacity that an individual has to access and effectively use health-related information, in order to promote and maintain good health. While literacy can enable people to understand and communicate health information and concerns, when these are applied to a health context, it is called health literacy. A person can be literate and still have limited health literacy. 

In the report Healthy People 2010 , the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services define it as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

Examples of actions that require health literacy skills include properly reading and adhering to a care or prevention program as well as being able to use the available healthcare services rationally and ponder individual behavioural change. Increasing health literacy rates is a means to empower patients and contribute to downgrade inequalities towards a healthier, safer, more demanding society.

Health education

One of the main tasks of health education is to inform about lifestyles and behaviours that prevent people from various diseases. In this sense, health education aims to influence a person’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviours connected to health in a positive way. It is a process during which people learn how to take care about their own and other people’s health.

Initiatives can either focus on improving existing medical problems or preventative education (e.g.  prevent people from acquiring various diseases or guide them on how to live with a disease), in any combination of planned learning activities.

Health Education models of intervention have evolved in the past three decades. The field is quite diverse in Europe on what concerns approaches and levels of integration with public health programs.


Online training

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Guidance for programmatic management of latent tuberculosis infection in the European Union/European Economic Area

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Jan 2019 - Eur. Respir. J. - 53():1802077

Rosales-Klintz, S., Bruchfeld, J., Haas, W., Heldal, E., Houben, R., van Kessel, F., Mandelbaum, M., Matteelli, A., Migliori, G.B., Oordt-Speets, A., Solovic, I., Vasakova, M., Verver, S., de Vlas, S.J., Vonk Noordegraaf-Schouten, M.J.M., de Vries, G., Zenner, D., van der Werf, M.J.