HEAL EU, Health Literacy Awareness for Healthy Europe is an Erasmus+ KA2 Project, supported by the European Commission. The project started in September 2016 and ended at the end of November 2018. The project had six partners from four different countries; project partners were a university, local governorship, educational directorate, social research institute, and two non-governmental associations.
The main objective of the HEAL EU Erasmus + project was to make contributions to formation of a European society that has high health status and awareness through increasing health literacy of adults.
Promoting good health is an integral part of Europe 2020, the EU’s 10-year economic-growth strategy. More specifically, health policy is important to Europe 2020’s objectives for smart and inclusive growth because; Keeping people healthy and active for longer has a positive impact on productivity and competitiveness. Innovation can help make the healthcare sector more sustainable and find new cures for health conditions. (http://ec.europa.eu/health/europe_2020_en.htm) Efficient adult learning opportunity will be provided on subjects that directly and indirectly affect health literacy such as learning to learn and digital competence. For that purpose, qualified education opportunity presented for disadvantageous groups (socially, economically, culturally) by preparing health literacy training modules and materials
WHO defines health as not merely the absence of diseases and disability; health is complete well being in physical, psychological and socially. Health literacy (HL) is people’s social and cognitive skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to understand and use information to promote and maintain good health.
According to 2009 UNESCO report 776 million world population and currently %50 of US adult population don’t have the basic HL. In a recent study conducted in 8 European countries using European HL survey, %47.6 population have inadequate and problematic HL score; HL is related to use of health services as well. People with low HL use preventative health measures like breast cancer screening facilities and flu vaccinations less frequently. There is also relationship people having low HL and increased number of health clinic visits and hospitalization. Low HL is also a factor for people using emergency health care services more than average. Inadequate HL have individual as well as economic impact on the resource of the nations.
Self efficacy (SE) is optimistic self beliefs how one could cope with difficulties one may face. If individuals are aware of their responsibilities in preserving and promoting their health and carry out their duties of self care they could cope with their health problems. SE scale developed by Schwarzer et all. is not specific to any area but can determine general SE reliably.
There were six partners; Gazi University was the coordinator, members of Department of Public Health at the Medical Faculty carried out project tasks. Because of its expertise and resources in health promotion, the public health department led the project during all the project tasks. Ankara National Education Directory had public education centers this improved the public adult education opportunities of the project. Since Governorship of Ankara is the principal governor of the province and provincial health department; they helped to increase public awareness of health literacy and they facilitated reaching wider health and educational positions within the city and nationally. ISIS Sozialforschung worked with disadvantaged and elderly group which helped to increase HL awareness among those who had low HL. OMNIS worked with immigrants and disadvantaged groups who were generally need more uplifting in HL. BDA worked with general population and helped creating social policies.
Main Project Activities
Creation of web page (OER platform); the project web page shared all the information and findings of the project and its activities. HL education materials were provided on the web page in project partner countries languages.
HL and general self-efficacy level in partner countries were determined, Health Literacy Survey EU developed by HLS EU Consortium was used to evaluate HL level, the survey was carried out on 806 adults aged 18 and over in total; based on these results, literature search and health services an evidence based need analysis was carried out.
Based on the need analysis a HL education program and its contents, materials and methods were developed for the general public; this health literacy education program then applied on 400 adults, and then evaluated.
An education program with contents and evaluation to improve education skills of the educators for the general public in HL was developed, applied and evaluated; 12 educators participated.
Dissemination activities, multiplier events were organized to increase awareness about HL for the general public and health policy setters.
After adult HL education programs and awareness activities, HL score of the target groups were increased significantly. The developed materials in HL for the educators and the general public based on the need analysis were the first of its kind in Europe. The project added and complemented the works of partners by including HL in their portfolio who were already active in related areas; and promoted the HL level of their population.