Health literacy can be defined as the knowledge, motivation and competence to access, understand, appraise and apply information to make decisions in terms of healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion. Health literacy is a European public health challenge that has to be taken seriously by policymakers. It constitutes an emerging field for policy, research and practice. However, recent research has shown that health literacy advancement is still at its infancy in Europe, as reflected in the scarce scientific health literacy literature published by European authors. From a total of 569 articles published until 2011 on this subject, the first author of only 15% of them is from Europe. This article conveys recommendations of different European stakeholders on how to accelerate the health literacy agenda in Europe. A general introduction on the current status of health literacy is provided, followed by two cases applying health literacy in the areas of prevention of communicable diseases and promotion of digital health. The current EU strategies integrating health literacy are listed, followed by examples of challenges threatening the further development of health literacy in Europe. Recommendations as to how European stakeholders involved in research, policy, practice and education can promote health literacy are given. It is vital that the European Commission as well as European Union Member States take the necessary steps to increase health literacy at individual, organizational, community, regional and national levels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health