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Research Urban and Regional Studies Institute PRC

Community participation in Health Literacy initiatives for older adults: towards guidelines for Europe

Principal researcher

Liesbeth de Wit

Type of research



This research project is conducted in the context of a European project that aims to conduct Intervention Research On Health Literacy in the Aging population (IROHLA). IROHLA is coordinated by the University Medical Center Groningen and has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°305831.


Prof. Inge Hutter (promotor)

Dr. Louise B. Meijering (co-promotor)

Dr. Andrea F de Winter (co-promotor)


Although the importance of health literacy has been acknowledged by more European researchers and policy maker s in the last decade, so far little attention has been devoted to a community-based approach to health literacy. Health literacy is linked to literacy and entails people s knowledge, motivation and competences to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information in order to make judgments and take decisions in everyday life concerning healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during the life course (Sorensen, 2012) . A community-based approach to health literacy is not only critical to an individual’s skills, but also to personal and community empowerment as well as reciprocity between older adults and other health community stakeholders, such as informal and formal caretakers and policy makers, subsequently leading to increased trust in health care systems.

We aim to develop a community-based participatory approach to health literacy and associated initiatives for older adults in Europe. The overall objective is to support particularly older adults that are vulnerable with regard to access to good quality health care, services and information in order to improve their overall health and wellbeing through improving the effectiveness of health literacy initiatives.  

The project is innovative by focusing on the individual older adult in his/her context, including not only community members but also informal social networks, health professionals, public and private organizations, and policy makers. An additional strength of this research is the incorporation of perceived needs of the community stakeholders in the development of initiatives that are crucial to a health literate community embedded into its social cultural context.

Last modified:07 August 2020 3.03 p.m.