[Health literacy in childhood and adolescence: An overview and current state of research]

Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2015 Sep;58(9):930-41. doi: 10.1007/s00103-015-2199-1.
[Article in German]


Background: Health literacy is multidisciplinary and brings together many concepts, and is of increasing importance for disease protection, health promotion, and prevention, and for health policy within Europe. Although its importance is increasingly recognised, adults are mostly the target audience, whereas children and adolescents, in addition to education and schools, have so far been neglected.

Objectives: The aim is to give an overview of the state of the art in childhood and adolescence health literacy research, and to identify any existing gaps.

Materials: A literature review has been performed to identify the relevant research data.

Results: Limitations in developmental and age-adjusted conceptual frameworks and a lack of prevalence data, however, significantly impede our understanding of the meaning of health literacy in children and adolescents. School health promotion programmes could serve as a platform for effective health literacy education, beginning in early childhood.

Conclusions: In addition to compatibility with a broader literacy perspective, the proximity to several theories of health promotion and defined concepts, and the importance of school health promotion and education, it is vital to focus research on current gaps in the understanding of health literacy determinants, health literacy as a determinant of health, and in terms of the design and systematic implementation of intervention programmes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Education / organization & administration
  • Health Education / trends*
  • Health Literacy / methods
  • Health Literacy / organization & administration
  • Health Literacy / trends*
  • Health Promotion / trends*
  • Health Services Research / trends*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organizational Objectives