Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Interdisciplinary Centre
for Health Literacy

Health literacy in Germany: The collection of representative data and the development of a materials and methods for health counseling

12/2013 bis 12/2016

Project management and coordination
Prof. Dr. Doris Schaeffer

Project suppurt staff
Eva-Maria Berens, Dominique Vogt

Project funding
Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV)

People with limited health literacy are at risk for receiving inadequate treatment and long-term care. Appropriate information and counseling are especially important for this group of people, but access is insufficient.

One aim of the project was to collect data on the health literacy, the lifestyle, health situation, and the information and counseling needs of people living in Germany. A second aim was to develop a materials and methods compilation that contributes to improve health counseling among people with low health literacy and increases user orientation in health counseling.

Subproject I: Collection of representative data on health competency in Germany
In the first phase, a representative survey was conducted on health literacy, lifestyle and health conditions. The sample was composed of 2,000 people aged 15 and above. Through this nationwide survey, data on the health literacy of the German population was collected.
The report (in German) can be found here.

Subproject II:Development of a materials and methods compilation for health counseling
In the second subproject, a systematic survey of problems and approaches to solving health problems was conducted with people with low health literacy. Based on a) the representative survey results, and b) focus groups with health counselors focusing on problems and approaches in dealing with persons with low health literacy, a collection of materials and methods, designed to support counselors, was developed and tested.
The materials and methods compilation (in German) can be found here.

Current publications on Health Literacy can be found in our publication list.

New publication:
Health literacy - the state of research and future perspectives (book in German with some chapters in English)
Published by Doris Schaeffer and Jürgen Pelikan



Coronavirus pandemic and health literacy: The coronavirus is currently spreading worldwide. During this pandemic, health literacy must be given special emphasis in order to prevent the new virus from spreading more rapidly. Further information can be found here.

COVID-19 and Infodemic: The COVID-19 pandemic is accompanied by the so-called "Infodemic" (Infodemic). Finding good information, protecting oneself from fake news and untruths and making sensible health decisions in these crises are the main focus. Further information can be found here.

Interview Children's health literacy: Children and young people are an important target group for the promotion of health literacy. However, little research has been done into this area. The Pharmazeutische Zeitung spoke to Orkan Okan of the ICHL about the current situation in Germany. Further information can be found here.

Development of a WHO European Region action plan on health literacy: In February, WHO Europe launched an initiative in Copenhagen to develop a European action plan to promote and strengthen health literacy for the 53 European Member States. Further information can be found here.

Health literacy in the digital age: This was the motto of a conference in Berlin on 04.02.2020. Link

4. HLCA Summer School: "Advancing health literacy during the life course: towards a health literate Europe" takes place at Bielefeld University from 23 to 27 September 2019. Link

Research Symposium: On 2.09.2019 the Research Symposium with the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) will take place at Bielefeld University (Room X-E0-222)

Patricia Wahl (Graf), Alexandra Fretian and Ullrich Bauer report on the topic of "Psychische Erkrankung im Alltag: Tabuisierung und Stigmatisierung" in the youth welfare report 02.19

IGEL Evaluation - Ergebnisse: Effectiveness of a school-based intervention to prevent child sexual abuse (Czerwinski et al.) Download

Die Utopie der Gene: Ullrich Bauer on the influence of genes in DIE ZEIT. Download Download

Ullrich Bauer bei der Child's World Conference (11.-13. Juli 2018). Learning, education and the ethical question of what we offer to pupils. Download

The EUSPR Newsletter The EUSPR Newsletter gives an overview of the German Health Prevention Network.

New article in the Archive of Public Health - Journal, by Domanska, O.M., Firnges, C., Bollweg, T.M. et al. Download

Ullrich Bauer's review of "Stimmungen der Soziologie" als short version and long version

New publications

International Handbook of health literacy
Handbuch Sozialisationsforschung
Präevention von sexueller Gewalt in der Primarstufe
Psychisch belastete Eltern in der sozialpädagogischen Familienhilfe
 Children in times of crisis