Research project

National action plan to bolster health literacy in Germany

For the first time ever, a National action plan to bolster health literacy in Germany is being developed by a joint research project between the Hertie School of Governance and the University of Bielefeld. The project is directed by of Klaus Hurrelmann (Hertie School), Doris Schaeffer and Ullrich Bauer (Bielefeld) and Kai Kolpatzik (AOK Bundesverband). Furthermore, it is under the patronage of the Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, with funding from the Robert Bosch Foundation, and is planned to span two-and-a-half years. Following the example of health literacy initiatives in other countries, German-based experts from varying disciplines aim to develop concrete recommendations for improving health literacy in Germany.

More about the project

The project seeks to focus on the study Health literacy in Germany. The study has revealed that more than half of the German population (54%) lacks the relevant health information and skills needed to cope with the everyday demands of health preservation. Properly understanding one's own personal health and accessing information on appropriate care and support requires significant effort. As such, people with low health literacy often suffer from subjectively mediocre to poor health. Additionally, Schaeffer found that low levels of health literacy appear most commonly within low-income and immigrant segments of the population, as well as among the elderly.

The action plan aims to formulate a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to promote health literacy among the German population, and to increase opportunities for accessing health literacy information among all citizens, regardless of their socio-economic background. Particular areas of consideration for the research project are health education for children, the development of group-specific, targeted information utilising the internet as a communication mechanism, training programmes for doctors and nurses, as well as the development of a user-friendly interface for conveying health care information. The national action plan research project seeks to intensify research in the area of health literacy in Germany, as the country has yet to develop sufficient tools and resources to meet the needs of its citizens.


"National Action Plan for Health Literacy" (Feb 2018)

Download the full report here.

National action plan website

Project leads