Policy Briefs IROHLA

The making of IROHLA policy briefs

When starting the IROHLA project the consortium partners formulated the aim of producing guidelines for policy and practice, although at that time the shape and format of these guidelines was not yet defined. In the course of the project the partners decided to produce policy briefs and an interactive portal where all background materials and evidence would be shared and updated regularly.

Delphi study conducted

In 2013 the project team conducted a Delphi study into the “burning issues in health literacy for the ageing population”. Which topics were most relevant, which groups were most important to involve, and who were the key stakeholders in change processes? Researcher also did an extensive literature search, not only in medical publications, but also publications in social and management sciences to identify relevant approaches in the broad area of health literacy. In this stage the IROHLA model for operational research was formulated.

Research activities

This again resulted in choices for operational research and validation of interventions in for example community involvement, communication, ICT tools, training of healthcare professionals and assessment of the health institutions on health literacy factors.

Key messages distilled

From these research activities key messages were distilled with a focus on what would be relevant for policy makers and professionals. What should be the next steps in evidence-based policy and practice? We scanned existing policies and strategies in Europe to find inspirational ideas or gaps in knowledge to be filled.

Policy Briefs developed and tested

In an iterative process of formulation and feedback with project partners and external experts, the policy briefs for governments in EU member states and for practitioners got more and more shape. In a very condensed form the wide range of research findings are reflected in these briefs:

  1. Download Policy brief for organisations here
  2. Download Policy brief governments here


Summarising the recommendations in three sentences:

  1. Integrate health literacy topics in national programmes in for example equitable access to care, patient safety or social inclusion.

  2. Address all relevant stakeholders at the same time, with a series of activities to achieve better and sustainable impact in a comprehensive approach.

  3. Complete the three steps for individuals and three steps for organisations, starting with increasing knowledge, continuing with improving skills and collaboration, and completing with changing behaviour and organisational culture in a sustainable way.




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