An overview on results of health literacy studies of general population using HLS-EU instruments in Europe and beyond.

For public health policy and practice health literacy studies of general populations using a comprehensive definition, model and instrument of health literacy are very relevant. The HLS-EU consortium offered such a definition, a conceptual and generic model as well as corresponding instruments and validated and used these first in 2011 in 8 European Member States. In the meantime this approach and the long form and short forms of the instrument have been used in many more European and Asian countries. These studies demonstrated general trends related to population health literacy, but also considerably variation between researched countries. Limited health literacy is a problem of considerable proportions of the general population, there is a social gradient for health literacy, and health literacy is associated with health behaviors, with relevant indicators of health and with use of professional health care services. But results from these studies have not been compared systematically to get a more integrated picture for health research, policy and practice. This keynote will start to do this and give an overview using the published literature on these studies. This hopefully will support  health literacy as “a critical determinant of health” to be taken even more into account in national and international health policy.