Health literacy and patient information: developing the methodology for a national evidence-based health website

Patient Educ Couns. 2008 Dec;73(3):551-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.08.020. Epub 2008 Oct 28.


Objective: To define evidence-based health information and the conceptual framework and methodology of Germany's national health information website.

Methods: Description of the political and methodological processes in the development of the website Health Online developed by the Institute of Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Results: Autonomy, empowerment and health literacy were useful theoretical concepts to guide the definition of evidence-based health information and the objectives and methodologies used for developing this website. These choices had direct practical consequences for the patient information.

Conclusion: Evidence-based patient information involves the use of evidence and systematic methodologies in several facets of information provision. These include a process of information development that minimises bias, evidence as the information basis for the content, and the use of evidence-based communication techniques. To be empowering and support patient autonomy, information should be patient-centred and non-directive.

Practice implications: Health websites are communication interventions which can have very different objectives and methods. A conceptual framework can help guide these choices and provide a basis for subsequent evaluation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods
  • Educational Status
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / education*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / organization & administration
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Information Services / organization & administration*
  • Internet / organization & administration*
  • Models, Educational
  • Models, Organizational
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration*
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Patient Participation
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Politics
  • Power, Psychological
  • Program Development
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration