The project Intervention Research On Health Literacy among Ageing population (IROHLA) focuses on improving health literacy for the ageing population in Europe by improving competencies and empowerment of older adults, and by providing innovative tools for communication in health services. The health literacy concept allows for thinking beyond the narrow concept of health education and addresses the environmental, political and social factors that determine health.
The project will contribute to the understanding of health literacy and develop a comprehensive model for addressing health literacy needs in older adults. The project will perform an assessment of quality and feasibility of health literacy interventions and activities in ageing population in various European countries. It will make use of knowledge and experience of programmes in other sectors, which aim for social inclusion of ageing people.
The project will identify, validate and present a set of maximum 20 interventions, which together constitute a comprehensive approach of addressing health literacy needs of the ageing population in European countries. These interventions will be part of an evidence-based guideline for policy and practice for EU member states.
The project will actively disseminate the results through media and information channels. In collaboration with partners, the project will create awareness amongst stakeholders and to promote adoption and implementation of guidelines for policy and practice.
Health literacy has been defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and functions of services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Around 12% of the population in Europe has inadequate health literacy competencies and 35% problematic health literacy competencies.
The problem is more serious in the ageing population. This is partly due to lower average levels of education in the past, and partly due to losing skills, when not challenged in day-to-day life. Low health literacy is consistently associated with increased hospitalisations, greater emergency care use, lower use of mammography, lower receipt of influenza vaccine, poorer ability to demonstrate taking medicines appropriately, poorer ability to interpret labels and health messages, and among seniors, poorer overall health status and higher mortality.
Inadequate health literacy even independently predicts all-cause mortality and cardiovascular death among community-dwelling older people. The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing indicates that improving health literacy is an important element in the programme for healthy ageing.
This project will address health literacy issues of older people through a comprehensive approach, which combines empowering interventions and health literacy communication, applying cross-sectoral and cross-national learning. The projects aims to provide governments and practitioners with appropriate guidelines and best practices, which can make an impact on improving health and health care for the ageing population in European member states.
The IROHLA project will enhance healthy ageing through improvement of health literacy in Europe. The guideline for policy and practice will provide concrete tools for national, regional and local government authorities to start action. The (maximum) 20 evidence-based interventions for empowerment and health literacy practice can be applied in all European member states, as they will be selected on evidence and feasibility.
The participation of representatives of the ageing population in the project, local governments, business community and other stakeholders is a guarantee that the feasibility of selected interventions will be high. The IROHLA project will feed directly into the objectives of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. Tackling health literacy will result in empowerment of ageing persons and will create a environment conducive for communication.
The project results will be applicable both at policy and at practice level in all European member states. Besides the policy guidelines the 20 high-impact interventions will provide guidance for practitioners to formulate their priorities.