IMPACCT stands for “IMproving PAtient-centered Communication Competencies: To build professionals capacity concerning health literacy in medical and nursing education”. The IMPACCT project is funded by the ERASMUS+ Programme, under the Strategic Partnership for higher education and lasts 36 months, from 01/09/2017 till 30/08/2020.
Low Health Literacy (HL) affects the ability to understand health information, navigate services, use medication, and self-manage one’s condition. It affects about 47% of the European population, with serious negative health consequences, especially for older people. Health literacy problems are most prominent among older adults, especially among those who deal with multiple diseases or complex care situations. Improving patient-health professional communication reduces the burden of low Health Literacy.
Patient: “I like my doctor but it is so difficult to understand him. He explained my disease in detail and told me what to do. He also gave me a brochure with more information. I really want to stay as healthy as possible! But honestly, I feel overwhelmed and I am getting really anxious because I still don’t know how to deal with this situation.”
In practice, professionals mostly overestimate patients’ health literacy level and lack adequate competencies to address low health literacy effectively. One contributing factor is that health students and professionals in the EU receive no or very little training on HL, even if these competences are of major relevance for future medical and nursing professionals due to their professional engagement with (older) patients.
Mastering these competences will fill a major gap in the current EU workforce, and will improve the sustainability of the EU health systems. Previously, the IROHLA project has delivered an evidence-based training programme for health professionals in different EU countries, which promoted the development of essential health literacy communication competencies. One of the recommendations of IROHLA was to provide education in patient-centred communication at a much earlier stage in education (e.g. undergraduate students) in order to reach optimal impact – this is a recommendation IMPACCT is taking up.
IMPACCT aims to improve the relevance and quality of education of medical and nursing students in Europe through the development and implementation of an evidence-informed Health Literacy Educational Programme (HL-EP). This will enhance health professionals’ health literacy competencies Europe-wide.
Taking into account that true innovation in education is a complicated process, IMPACCT has defined seven specific objectives:
- To facilitate the involvement of relevant European stakeholders (e.g. students, curriculum designers, curriculum coordinators, educational and health professionals, older adults, members of patient organizations) in order to strengthen co-creation during all stages of IMPACCT and promote integration of HL-EP in curricula.
- To develop a comprehensive framework for HL-EP including the identification of its core components based on previous experiences of the IROHLA project.
- To develop a set of basic and more advanced health literacy Learning Units in order to promote the development of fundamental HL knowledge and skills and prepare students for complex situations in everyday practice.
- To implement and evaluate HL-EP in different European countries.
- To promote self-regulated and lifelong learning by the development and testing of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
- To describe quality standards and provide guidance for educational professionals in supporting sustainable changes, paving the way for a European standard for supporting quality of care
- To actively disseminate the HL-EP using the Health Literacy Centre Europe (HLCE) and other strategies to reach our target groups.
IMPACCT is coordinated by the University Medical Center Groningen (The Netherlands)
The other partners of the project are:
- National University of Galway (Ireland)
- European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (Belgium)
- Marche Region – Regional Health Agency (Italy)
- Pavol Jozef Šafárik University Košice (Slovakia)
- University of Groningen (The Netherlands)
- Jacobs University (Germany)