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1.2 Definitionen

The ability to read, understand and act on health-care information.

Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc., 1997


The capacity of individuals to obtain, interpret and understand basic health information and services and the competence to use such
information and services in ways which enhance health. 

Joint Committee on National, Health Education Standards, 1998


The cognitive and social skills that determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access, to understand and use
information in ways which promote and maintain good health.

Health literacy implies the achievement of a level of knowledge, personal skills and confidence to take action to improve personal and community health by changing personal lifestyles and living conditions. Thus, health literacy means more than being able to read pamphlets and make appointments.
By improving people’s access to health information, and their capacity to use it effectively, health literacy is critical to empowerment. Health literacy is itself dependent upon more general levels of literacy. Poor literacy can affect people’s health directly by limiting their personal, social and cultural development, as well as hindering the development of health literacy.

World Health Organization (WHO)
Health Promotion Glossary of Terms, 1998

A constellation of skills, including the ability of individuals to gain access, to understand and use information in ways which promote
and maintain good health.Definition von Gesundheitskompetenz

Ad Hoc Committee on Health Literacy for the Council
on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association, 1999


The degree to which individuals can obtain, process and understand the basic health information and services they need to make
appropriate health decisions.

(Diese Definition verwendet auch der Institute of Medicine’s Bericht Health Literacy: Prescription to End
Confusion (2004) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services’ Healthy People 2010) National Library of Medicine’s
Health Literacy, Selden, C. et al., 2000


The personal, cognitive and social skills which determine the ability
of individuals to gain access, to understand and use information to
promote and maintain good health. Three levels of health literacy
were identified:
1. basic or functional health literacy;
2. communicative or interactive health literacy; and,
3. critical health literacy

Health Literacy as a Public Health Goal, Don Nutbeam, 2000


The wide range of skills and competencies that people develop to seek out, comprehend, evaluate and use health information and
concepts to make informed choices, reduce health risks and increase quality of life.

Understanding Health Literacy, Zarcadoolas, Pleasant and Greer, 2005


The ability to make sound health decisions in the context of everyday life—at home, in the community, at the workplace, in the healthcare system, the marketplace and the political arena. It is a critical empowerment strategy to increase people’s control over their health, their ability to seek out information and their ability to take responsibility.

Navigating Health: The Role of Health Literacy, Kickbusch, Wait and Maag, 2005


... the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions and services needed to prevent or treat illness.

Health Resources and Services Administration


Health literacy includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor's directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. Health literacy is not simply the ability to read. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations.
Health literacy varies by context and setting and is not necessarily related to years of education or general reading ability. A person who functions adequately at home or work may have marginal or inadequate literacy in a health care environment. With the move towards a more "consumer-centric" health care system as part of an overall effort to improve the quality of health care and to reduce health care costs, individuals need to take an even more active role in health care related decisions. To accomplish this people need strong health information skills.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine 


These are the skills that all people need to, for instance, find their way to the right place in a hospital, fill out medical and insurance forms, and communicate with healthcare providers.

The Literacy Assistance Center of New York


A constellation of skills, including the ability to perform basic reading and numerical tasks required to function in the health care environment.

The American Medical Association Ad Hoc Committee on Health Literacy


The wide range of skills and competencies that people develop to seek out, comprehend, evaluate, communicate, and use health information and concepts to make informed choices, reduce health risks, reduce inequities in health, and increase quality of life.

Zarcadoolas, Pleasant & Greer

Health Literacy is the ability to get information, understand it, and use information to lower risk and better health.

Center for Health Literacy at the University of Maryland School of Public Health

 ... the ability to read, understand, and act on health information.


 ... a person’s ability to understand and use health information

Communication Health

A measure of a person's ability to understand health-related information and make informed decisions about that information. Health literacy includes interpreting prescriptions and following self care instructions. 

McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine

... a shared responsibility between patients (or anyone on the receiving end of health communication) and providers (or anyone on the giving end of health communication. Each must communicate in ways the other can understand."

Health Literacy Consulting, Helen Osborne

Health literacy is the ability to get information, understand it, and use information to lower risk and better health. 

University of Maryland Center for Health Literacy

In health promotion practice, health literacy means  to understand the conditions that determine health and to know how to change them.

Kickbush 2001

...the set of abilities needed to: recognize a health information need; identify likely information sources and use them to retrieve relevant information; assess the quality of the information and its applicability to a specific situation; and analyze, understand, and use the information to make good health decisions.

Medical Library Association

Health literacy describes the ability of an individual to make decisions and act in favour of their health in daily life - at home, in the community, at school, in the workplace, in the healthcare system, in the marketplace or in the political arena. Being health literate empowers people to increase control over their health, their ability to seek out health information, to navigate complex systems, to take responsibility and participate effectively in all aspects of life.

Health Literacy Alliance, Australia 

Health literacyis the ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course. 

Canadian Expert Panel on Health Literacy



Ein Zustand vollkommenen körperlichen, geistigen und sozialen Wohlbefindens und nicht allein das Fehlen

von Krankheit und Gebrechen.


WHO Constitution, 1948



Das ist die Fähigkeit sich den individuellen oder sozialen Anforderungen erfolgreich zu stellen oder eine

Aktivität oder eine Aufgabe zu erledigen.


DeSeCo, 2002


Informationen zum Referenten

Alexander Riegler, MPH, EMPH, BSc.

Alexander Riegler, MPH, EMPH, BSc.

  • Spezialist: Kommunikation, Gesundheitskompetenz, Biomedizinische Analytik
  • Erfahrung: Expert
  • Website:
  • Alexander Riegler, der Kompetenzentwickler, ist seit vielen Jahren als Dozent an verschiedenen Hochschulen und Fachhochschulen tätig. Seine Leidenschaft ist aber das Thema "Gesundheitskompetenz". Aus diesem Grund dreht sich auf dieser Homepage alles um dieses Thema. Gesundheitskompetenz? Ein uncooler Namen? Da stimme ich vollkommen zu....

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Alexander Riegler, MPH, EMPH, BSc.


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