[Why should and how can hospitals improve their organizational health literacy?]

Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2015 Sep;58(9):989-95. doi: 10.1007/s00103-015-2206-6.
[Article in German]


In late modern "multi-option" and "health" societies, health literacy (HL), understood as a specific competence, is considered necessary to successfully deal with the multitude of health relevant decisions and tasks to be taken every day. The concept has been used in the US, primarily in healthcare, to research the consequences of HL on the outcome of treatment specifically in patients with limited HL. In this context, it became evident that HL has to be understood as a relational or contextual concept. That is, the adequacy of HL does not only depend on personal HL, but equally on the demands organizations put on their users. This understanding of HL opened the road to measure not only individual HL, but also the HL sensitivity of organizations, i.e. organizational HL, and to use targeted measures to improve it. The ten attributes of a health-literate healthcare organization, as defined by the US Institute of Medicine, are a first systematic attempt to use this strategy in healthcare. In the meantime, the strategy has been used in other settings as well. Using experiences from health-promoting hospitals and the quality movement in healthcare, the authors develop this approach further into the comprehensive Vienna concept of the health-literate hospital, which considers all stakeholders and tasks of the hospital which are relevant for HL. A self-assessment tool was developed and tested as a basic instrument for developing a health-literate hospital. By doing so, hospitals are empowered to make a contribution to the promotion of HL as an important societal task.

MeSH terms

  • Germany
  • Health Literacy / methods
  • Health Literacy / organization & administration*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Hospital Administration / methods*
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Organizational Objectives*
  • Personnel, Hospital / education*
  • United States