ProLifestyle: Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Among Adolescents via Health Literacy-related Digital Support

Project Background

The aim of this subproject is to promote eHealth literacy and health skills of disadvantaged or underprivileged youth aged 14-17 via digital platforms. Furthermore, the development of a lifestyle website, a YouTube channel (Vlog) and a smartphone app is planned in this context.

On the one hand, and based on ProLifestyle predecessor project “PrettY” from HLCA`s first funding period, it became clear that there is an urgent need to provide health information as heterogeneously and target group-specific as even possible to make health information meaningful for them and also ensure the appropriate uptake of such information by the target groups. Addressing the needs of the ProLifestyle target groups is especially important due to the influx of refugees and migrants, which has been particularly high since 2015. In addition to various languages, it is necessary to use a low-threshold language in order to reach young people who are less educated. On the other hand, findings from “ELMi”, which is another project from HLCA`s first funding period based on ethnographic methods and aimed at the social practices of eHealth and health literacy in migrants and refugee youths, should be incorporated into the development of the platforms as well. This includes above all that those resources and action competencies, that young adolescents are already possess (prior and already existing knowledge, skills, competencies, etc.), should be included and drawn upon appropriately.

The app and the website will be developed with the support and cooperation of a professional software developer. The researchers will design and develop the content of the website and the teaching and learning videos on YouTube with the involvement of disadvantaged young people. These feedback processes ensure that the young people are involved in the development processes as early as possible.

The information and content on the platforms should be designed in such a way that young people can understand them and make them usable for themselves. This also includes targeted navigation to (health) information, for example via search engines or on specific health websites. The idea is to promote general media skills and ehealth literacy via low-threshold formats, so that young people with low literacy levels and (German) language skills also have equal health opportunities compared with the autochthonous group.

In the ELMi project it could be shown that despite a lack of knowledge of the German language, young people were able to use translation and navigation tools on their smartphones. Existing competences enable them to build up and expand the competences necessary for the respective environment.

In the PrettY project it turned out that there are eHealth literacy formats designed for young people. However, young people with poor literacy skills cannot benefit from them.

ProLifestyle is designed in such a way that young people`s existing competencies and knowledge is addressed and promoted as early as possible, in order to compensate for and expand possible deficits in eHealth literacy as well as general action and health competencies. As has been partly shown in the ethnographic research, young people possess some hidden resources that could be addressed and further stimulated (competencies, knowledge, etc.). The development of the platforms and the associated intervention could be used to make those core and key competences visible, (1) which do not become visible on their own, especially in schools and other educational institutions, and thus (2) to promote the young people’s eHealth literacy level.

Elias Sahrai
University of Education Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Uwe Bittlingmayer
University of Education Freiburg