Theories, Concepts, and Models on Health Literacy in Childhood and Adolescence

TeCoMo is a theoretical research project, exploring health literacy in childhood and adolescence from a holistic public health and health promotion perspective.


Recent evidence has highlighted the critical relevance of health literacy for health and its importance for health promotion and prevention. Interestingly, so far, little health literacy research puts children and adolescents at the core. This contrasts with the importance given to childhood and youth for healthy human development, as well as for health and well-being throughout adulthood. Therefore, TeCoMo addresses this gap by exploring:
  • How can health literacy be applied to children and adolescence?
  • What relevance and need for health literacy is there in different age and development stages?
  • Which health literacy components and levels are feasible for what age group?


The project aims to develop target group-specific health literacy definitions and models which will be embedded in a holistic, conceptual framework. These will potentially serve as a foundation for further practical research and intervention development. TeCoMo profoundly emphasizes the relevance of:
  1. a health promoting, public health approach to health literacy;
  2. integrating child development perspectives and age group-specific needs for health literacy;
  3. parents and other adults in the direct environment of children;
  4. contextual factors and social structures;
  5. considering health literacy from an health inequality perspective;
  6. producing a workable and applicable framework

Relevance and Expected Outcomes

TeCoMo strives to:
  • strengthen health literacy research in childhood and adolescence in Germany;
  • establish a theoretical and conceptual bases for the development and
  • implementation of health literacy projects and interventions targeting youth;
  • enhance the understanding of health literacy in childhood and adolescence of parents, caretakers, teachers and health professionals, among others.

Work packages

TeCoMo is divided into three phases:
  1. Knowledge collection and synthesis: A systematic literature review is performed to a) scope the state of the art of health literacy in childhood and adolescence, and b) identify child development factors with possible relevance for health literacy development.
  2. Theory, concept and model development: Developing target group-specific health literacy definitions and models embedded in a holistic, conceptual framework, which integrates multidisciplinary perspective from literacy, child development, socialization research, among others.
  3. Integrating and dissemination of results: Evaluating and adjusting present adult health literacy models and conceptual frameworks to integrate perspectives of health literacy concerning children and adolescents.
Prof. Dr. Ullrich Bauer
Bielefeld University
Janine Bröder
-contact person-
Bielefeld University
Orkan Okan
Bielefeld University
Dr. Paulo Pinheiro
-subproject leader-
Bielefeld University
Sandra Schlupp
Bielefeld University