Several researchers from the HLCA consortium attended the 10th European Public Health Conference (EPHC) from 1st – 4th November 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. During the conference, the HLCA members organised several events and presented selected research results.The EHPC conference theme “Sustainable, resilient and healthy communities” brought together representatives from around the world. In addition to presenting its own scientific findings, the HLCA Consortium has organized a pre-conference and various workshops with the Health Promotion Section (HPS) of the European Association for Public Health (EUPHA). Emphasis was put on empirical research results, but also theoretical perspectives and practical effects on research, politics and practice were presented and discussed.
The EPHC kicked off with our pre-conference event: “Health literacy and resilient citizens in the healthy community: bridging the gap between theory and health promotion research in the Sustainability Agenda” which was organised by the HLCA-Consortium, the EUPHA-HPS and the newly established European Health Promotion Research Network. The preconference was moderated by Luis Saboga Nunes (Präsident, EUPHA-section: Health promotion) and Orkan Okan (HLCA).
The speakers Bengt Lindström, Geir Arild Espnes and Unni Karin Moksnes of the NTNU Health Promotion Center of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU-CHPR) firstly presented the newley founded Health Promotion Research Network for Europe. This network was founded in cooperation with the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), the NTNU-CHPR and the HPS. The aim is to further develop health promotion at the European level. Because in health policy in particular, the interplay between public health and health promotion still plays a marginal role. Further information on the network and their upcoming conference can be found here: https://www.ntnu.edu/healthforum.
Peter Goldblatt (Health Equity Institute, University College London) introduced into the “Closing the Gap” Strategy which is the resulting report on the work of the multinational Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) launched by the World Health Organization in 2005, and connected unique methods of health equity research with those from health literacy research. Kristine Sørensen (Global Health Literacy Academy) followed with a presentation also drawing on health equity, and highlighted the importance to promote and protect European public health in general and health literacy in particular through leadership, partnership, innovation and actions using a whole-of-society approach. Orkan Okan (HLCA) introduced the final results of the HLCA research consortium and introduced the projects and objectives of the second funding period 2018-2021. Elise Sijthoff (Fysio Educatief & Wishes Network Amsterdam) gave insights into her ongoing projects on how children could be addressed as young citizens and agents of their own well-being as well as supporting the health of those who are close to them. Finally, Luis Saboga Nunes (Universidade NOVA de Lisboa) discussed the role that the salutogenic paradigm can play in a life course perspective to promote health literacy, as an important vehicle for health and well-being.
The 1. HLCA workshop session at the EPHC: “Health literacy in different countries and populations: the many approaches to research” included four speakers addressing health literacy research from four different countries Afghanistan, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. Stefanie Harsch (HLCA Teacher-MHL) presented the first findings of her quantitative study on health literacy in crisis areas using the example of Afghanistan. Isabella Bertschi (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland & associate partner of the HLCA-Consortium) gave an insight into health as a lived cultural practice in the everyday life of Hispanic immigrants in Switzerland. Their initial findings suggest that in addition to traditional social networks, digital networks are increasingly playing an important role in finding, understanding, assessing and applying health information to health decisions. The IC Health project “Improving digital health literacy in Europe” was presented by Pietro Del Giudice from the University of Udine in Italy. Orkan Okan (HLCA-MoMChild) presented results of the qualitative health literacy study with fourth grade primary school children.
In the 2. session “Health literacy in childhood and adolescence: empirical results”, the results of the HLCA-Consortium of five projects were presented to the international public. Janine Bröder (HLCA-TeCoMo) started with the various health literacy concepts in childhood and adolescence and their peculiarities (Bröder et al. BMC Public Health. 2017). She addressed the diverse and heterogeneous concepts that exist for health literacy in childhood and adolescence. She highlighted the challenges involved and argued for greater consideration of the specificities of the target group, as well as the interactions with multiple environmental factors.
Torsten Michael Bollweg (HLCA-MoMChild) presented preliminary results of a class study on health literacy of fourth graders. He pointed out that already at the age of 9 to 10 years, the health literacy among the interviewed children is high, especially if they come from families who have a high income. Olga Domanska (HLCA-MOHLAA) talked about the development process of the MOHLAA-questionnaire. The talk focused on qualitative findings to adolescents’ health literacy from the cognitive interviews and the focus groups. Research on mental health literacy of teachers and social workers, obtained through qualitative interviews and in-depth knowledge has been presented by Dirk Bruland (HLCA Teacher-MHL). Research result of the project: “HLCA MEDIA PROTECT Projekt: first results of the process evaluation“ were submitted by Eva-Maria Bitzer (HLCA-MEDIA PROTECT). Key findings are, that most parents in the sample have a problem awareness about using screen media. As a result, there is a need to train parents and also educators in digital media literacy.
Janine Bröder (HLCA-TeCoMo) talked during the “Pitch-Presentations: Children and Adolescents”-session about “Child Health Literacy – a Child-Centered Conceptual Understanding”. Based on a literature analysis , she pointed out that different definitions and models for health literacy in childhood and adolescence could be found. However, these are hardly target group-specific and take into account the peculiarities, lifestyles and needs of children only to a limited extent. Furthermore, she showed that the descriptions of Health Literacy have a strong focus on personal ability to act and competencies. But, there is little research on how people actually practice health literacy in their everyday lives. The presentation “Qualitative Methods in Health Competence Research in Infants” was presented by Orkan Okan (HLCA-MoMChild) introducing into children`s perspective of health, well-being, and health literacy. In the session “Pitch presentations: Young people and future mental health”, Dirk Bruland (HLCA Teacher-MHL) discussed the abilities of teachers to promote the mental health of their students in general and in specific of those, whose parents suffer from mental illness. Under the title “Health literacy, general health and social support” Susanne Jordan (HLCA-MOHLAA) from the Robert-Koch Institute, Berlin talked in the session “Pitch presentations: Social determinants of health” about survey results of the ´German Health Update`.
The poster presentations of the members of the HLCA-Consortium mainly focused on the research of mental health and understanding and dealing with people with a migrant background. Zeynep Islertas (HLCA-ELMi) poster “Relevance of Resources for the Health Behavior of Female Adolescents with a Turkish Migrant Background” showed relationships between adolescent resources and their understanding of health and health behavior. Stefanie Harsch (HLCA Teacher-MHL) discussed in her poster presentation “Health literacy, the role of faith and barriers in Afghanistan. A quantitative study” the challenges faced by countries like Afghanistan to promote health literacy. Patricia Wahl (HLCA-NePP) focused on the perspective of families affected by parental mental illness on stigma and help-seeking.
The papers, posters, and more information from the European Public Health conference have been published in here: European Journal of Public Health.