Project Coordinator of IROHLA, based at the Department of Health Sciences of University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands
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“I want to know how patients, their families and medical professionals make decisions”, says Dr Jaap Koot. He is a medical doctor with many years of clinical experience in various countries. “Questions that motivate me are: Why people do or do not comply with medical plans? Why they do or do not follow health advice?”
Almost half of the European population has inadequate health literacy. This affects the ageing population more because modern healthcare demands more and more self-management, often utilising ICT-based systems. Improving health literacy will help older people remain active and healthy and to participate more in society.
IROHLA will develop policy guidelines to improve the health literacy of ageing Europeans. Health literacy comprises people’s knowledge of health information as well as their ability to access and understand this information. Koot: “We want to give people knowledge, skills and confidence to decide about their own health”.
The IROHLA consortium will formulate guidelines for policy and practice. Jaap Koot: “We will base our guidelines on best practices that we will identify and validate. A variety of stakeholders will participate: older citizens, local and regional governments, the business community, health service providers and scientists”.
Towards innovative policies for healthy ageing
Health literacy is related to educational level, socio-economic status, access to health services and to a variety of cultural, historical and political factors
Populations with poor health literacy include the ageing population, minority groups, migrants, the unemployed, socially isolated people and people with chronic health problems
Some studies have found that up to 5% of healthcare costs are directly related to health literacy problems
Improving health literacy will contribute to reduction of healthcare costs, for example through better adherence to prescribed medicines and reduced complications of treatment
Modern health systems require increasing levels of health literacy
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