Social inclusion in relation to health literacy

Inclusive growth as a priority

The Europe 2020 plan of the European Union defines inclusive growth as a priority. Find website here

Inclusive growth means:

  • Raising Europe’s employment rate – more and better jobs, especially for women, young people and older workers
  • Helping people of all ages anticipate and manage change through investment in skills & training
  • Modernising labour markets and welfare systems
  • Ensuring the benefits of growth reach all parts of the EU

Inclusive growth is necessary to reduce poverty and sustain economic growth.

Active inclusion according to the EU means enabling every citizen, notably the most disadvantaged, to fully participate in society, including having a job. Improving access to services is part of the policy of active inclusion. The European Social Fund supports member states’ initiatives for social inclusion activities. Find website here

In the research in IROHLA we found evidence of mutual strengthening of social inclusion and health literacy. Social inclusion activities can lead to increase of health literacy, when health components are incorporated, and health literacy activities can result in increased participation in society.

How to define social inclusion

Definitions of social inclusion by different scholars show clear commonalities:

  • ‘Social inclusion for an individual means access to supportive relationships, involvement in group activities and civic engagement.’ Download PDF here
  • ‘Social inclusion is the interaction between two major life domains: interpersonal relationships and community participation. Download PDF here
  • ‘Social inclusion is the ability to access social, economic, political, and cultural resources regardless of age, race, class, income, gender, disability, sexual orientation, immigration status, and religion’ Download PDF here

Core elements of social inclusion

Four aspects of social inclusion have been identified and described: inclusion in civil society (no discrimination); inclusion in access to social goods (society provides for the needs of disadvantaged groups); inclusion in social production (opportunities to contribute to and participate actively in society); and economic inclusion (access to economic resources needed to maintain a reasonable standard of living, e.g. getting jobs).

Who are at risk of social exclusion?

Populations regarded as particularly at risk of social exclusion include: disabled people, refugees and asylum seekers, ethnic minorities, older people, single parent families, women, unemployed people and people with mental health problems. These are the groups where lower levels of health literacy can be found: social inclusion and health literacy interventions address the needs of similar groups.

Why are older adults are at risk of social exclusion?

Older adults may face age related difficulties such as loss of friends or partner, health decline or decrease of independence. They are less able to leave the house, are less mobile and often more dependent on home care. It might affect their feeling of being included in a community and their opportunity and ability to participate. Download PDF here


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