AG Health Literacy

Brief description

Health literacy describes the ability to find, understand, assess and implement health information. Thus, health literacy is a key prerequisite for finding one's way through the health system and within the health care facilities and develop competencies for making decisions that have a positive impact on health.
Initial empirical data from Germany show that the health competence of many people is insufficient or problematic. Thus, on the one hand, the institutions of the health care system such as hospitals or doctors' practices face the challenge of adapting to these difficulties. On the other hand, it is necessary to define the strengthening of health literacy as a task of the institutions and health professions.
The Health Literacy Working Group of the DNVF was founded at the German Conference for Health Care Research 2014 in Düsseldorf. The AG has set itself the goal to network and promote care-related health competence research in Germany in order to contribute to the development of care-related and political solutions. The working group pursues the following sub-goals:


  • Networking of national and international scientists and institutions that conduct research in the field of health literacy
  • organization of workshops
  • Promotion of training and promotion of young scientists in the field of health competence research
  • Further development of the theoretical concept and methods of health literacy research
  • Further development of instruments for health literacy surveys
  • Dissemination of relevant research results and transfer of important results into the health policy discussion through statements, conference contributions and specialist publications
Activities 2017-2020

Over the past two years, the members of the working group have focused on the development of a memorandum on health literacy. Initially a Steering group was established to manage the process. In the steering group the topics and the structure of the memorandum as well as the initial group of authors were determined. In the course of the writing process, additional external experts in health literacy were recruited as authors.
The first part of the memorandum is dedicated to the definition of the subject matter and to the questions of health literacy research related to health care. The second part deals with the operationalisation and measurement of individual and organisational health literacy. The first part of the memorandum was finalised by the authors and steering group at the end of 2019 and published in July 2020 in "Das Gesundheitswesen.


The next step will be to finalise the second part of the memorandum. In addition, workshops will be developed in cooperation with the German Network Health Competence, which can be offered at annual conferences of the DNVF member societies to convey the contents of the memorandum in a practical way. One focus will be on the assessment and improvement of organisational health literacy.