Ilona Kickbusch

"Health Literacy is the ability to make sound health decision in the context of every day life – at home, in the community, at the workplace, the health care system, the market place and the political arena. It is a critical empowerment strategy to increase people’s control over their health, their ability to seek out information and their ability to take responsibility."

Health literacy

Ilona Kickbusch continues to explore the different dimensions of health literacy. One of her most recent contributions can be found here.

The Solid Facts: Health Literacy

The significance of literacy and health literacy as crucially important determinants of health is being increasingly recognised. People with strong health literacy skills enjoy better health and well-being, whereas those with weaker skills tend to engage in riskier behaviour and have poorer health. Despite this knowledge, both remain neglected areas of public health action and research. In 2013 the WHO European Office published The Solid Facts: Health Literacy - Editors: Ilona Kickbusch, Jürgen M. Pelikan, Franklin Apfel & Agis D. Tsouros. The German version is available here.

Ilona Kickbusch is committed to the development of the concept of health literacy. The goal is to place health literacy as a key form of literacy in 21st century societies and as an important investment in population health. Most recently the Lancet/FT Commission report explored further the links between health/digital and civic literacy as a key dimension of the digital transformation of health.

She lectures widely on the subject and has served on several advisory boards on the subject. At present she serves on the WHO GCM/NCD Working Group on health education and health literacy for NCDs and on the advisory group for the German National Action Plan on Health Literacy and moderated the launch of the plan. She now serves on the expert advisory group to the implementation of the plan.

She organized the CAREUM DIALOG 2017 on health literacy for the 3 German speaking countries – see report here. Presently plans are underway to organize the next Careum Dialogue 2022 on Health Literacy in May 2022. She is on the scientific advisory board for the health literacy initiative implemented in Partnership between the Careum Foundation and the Kanton of Zürich. Her work on patient education and empowerment for the Careum Foundation’s project EVIVO and for ENOPE are closely linked to the concept of health literacy. She also explores the contribution of digital health literacy.

Gesund und aktiv mit chronischer Krankheit leben. Hrsg. mit Joerg Haslbeck. Careum Verlag 2011

She helped establish to South Australian and the Swiss Alliance for Health Literacy and helped initiate the European Health Literacy Survey, more. For information on the most recent survey visit the M-POHL site.

Some classic early contributions include:

  • Health literacy: engaging in a political debate. editorial Int J Public Health 54 (2009) 1–2
  • Health Literacy: Towards active health citizenship. (with Daniela Maag) in: Sprenger, M. (ED) Public health in Österreich und Europa. Festschrift Horst Noack. Graz 2006. pp151-158
  • Health Literacy: addressing the health and education divide. in Health Promotion International, Vol, 16.3 (2001) pg 289-297