IROHLA takes as a starting point that addressing health literacy issues in the EU Member States requires a comprehensive approach which empowers the ageing population and improves health literacy communication in the health sector. It believes that more impact can be achieved by tackling both sides of the spectrum at the same time.

Moreover, EU countries need to move from isolated actions to a comprehensive programme combining multifaceted strategies which require top-down and bottom-up changes at the same time. This implies policy and legislative adjustments but also greater patients’ and consumer groups’ involvement in decision making on health issues. Last but not least, health workers must facilitate more decision-making by patients.


IROHLA applies participatory approaches in this process, in which a variety of stakeholders will participate: older citizens, local and regional governments, the business community, health service providers and scientists.

Indeed, IROHLA works in collaboration with older adults, who will share their needs and perspectives on health. The project will mobilise the social capital of senior citizens as well as health service providers in order to ensure the relevance of the research for society. IROHLA also incorporates the social sector and commercial sector in the research, because in those sectors viable initiatives are deployed to improve access to products and services for senior citizens with low literacy competencies. Cross-sectoral learning is an essential part of the project.Besides literature search, other types of search methods, such as focus groups and pilot sites, are applied to get a clear view on the European context and to indentify practices which have not been described in scientific publications yet.

  • Another key element is to address the heterogeneity of different contexts European senior citizens live in.:the socioeconomic situation in a region or setting e.g. household income, level of education, unemployment rate,
  • the composition of a region or setting with ethnic, religious and/ or language groups,
  • social relations such as family,support, access to resources
  • living conditionse.g. multigeneration households, elderly homes,
  • variations between service organisations such as quality of professional training, management support, collaboration in (multidisciplinary) teams, quality management, health care system structures
  • dimensions of national cultures e.g. degree of collectivism, power relations, shared national history

IROHLA also targets the wide group of people aged 50+ to recognise the impact of the various categories mentioned above on the level of health literacy and thus the health status at different ages. For better precision, subgroups are used, i.e. 50-65, 65-79, 80+.


IROHLA develops a comprehensive intervention model based on theories from different fields (e.g. medical, social and communication science). This comprehensive intervention model will be the reference for evaluation of existing health literacy interventions.
The project studies the synergetic effects of a combination of empowering interventions and health communication interventions for the ageing population in Europe. The findings of the research should lead to clear policy advice for national, regional and local authorities.

IROHLA will produce guidelines for policy and practice for EU member states and for stakeholders in those countries. To do so, links are made with relevant EC directorates and Agencies, stakeholders involved in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, Ministries of Health of the Member States and other potential users of the products of the project.

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