We are committed to exploring and improving the health literacy of the Swiss population. The results of the Health Literacy Survey Switzerland 2019-21 are now condensed into factsheets. They also show Switzerland in international comparison. Two reports on coronavirus-related health literacy are also available.
Improving Health literacy
Health literacy refers to the ability of the individual to take decisions in daily life that have a positive impact on health. It needs to be promoted by the creation of appropriate structural conditions. Strengthening the health literacy of the population is an aim of the Federal Council's Health2030 strategy.
Optimising the information provided to the public should help people move more efficiently in the healthcare system, better prevent illnesses and manage their health with greater care. We also support efforts to improve the health literacy of disadvantaged target groups living in Switzerland. Health and social care professionals play a central role in this.
Concept paper on health literacy
On behalf of the FOPH, Careum Center for Health Literacy has developed a «Concept paper on health literacy». This publication is the result of a broad literature review as well as a process of discussions and exchanges with experts representing the three main linguistic regions. It is intended to contribute to the development of a common understanding of health literacy in Switzerland and will be the basis for future activities.
The concept of health literacy has constantly evolved in the past years, giving rise to a number of definitions and conceptualizations. A common and shared understanding of the concept is needed for its application in research, practice and policy.
Further information: Konzeptpapier zur Gesundheitskompetenz (only in German)
Health literacy factsheets
The main results of the Swiss Health Literacy Survey 2019-21 are now collected in the following five factsheets:
Health literacy can be improved in various areas in Switzerland. Current research data show this in an international comparison.
Factsheet Health Literacy: How Switzerland compares with other countries:
Information from Careum on this topic (in German)
Health literacy in Switzerland. Health Literacy Survey Switzerland 2019-21 (factsheet):
Digital health literacy. Health Literacy Survey Switzerland 2019-21 (factsheet):
Navigational health literacy. Health Literacy Survey Switzerland 2019-21 (factsheet):
Swiss Health Literacy Survey 2019-21
Switzerland participated in an international survey on the health literacy of its population. This survey took place simultaneously in other countries of the WHO Europe region. The results were published in the form of a national report. They are also designed to serve as the basis for future measures.
Report in German with updated recommendations and with integrated summary in English, French and Italian.
Swiss Health Literacy Survey 2019-21: short report with additional analyses (only in German).
Health Literacy Survey Switzerland 2019-21: the results have been presented and discussed for the first time in a webinar on 10 September 2021.
Film: Aktuelle Daten zur Gesundheitskompetenz in der Schweiz - extracts from the webinar (in German).
Health literacy and the COVID-19 pandemic
In addition to surveys on health literacy in general, the FOPH and partner organisations are also investigating the coronavirus-related health literacy of the population as a whole and of migrants in Switzerland.
This study (in French; with executive summaries in German and English) provides information on the health literacy of the migrant population in Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic (in the last quarter of 2020). Drawn up in seven languages, the survey targeted migrants who are particularly vulnerable due to their residence status, their command of the (local) language and their financial situation.
Please also note the FCM magazine terra cognita on the subject of "Coronavirus: Impact on migration" (in German, French or Italian).
A study on the health literacy of the Swiss population in relation to the novel coronavirus. Conducted in May 2020, this online survey investigated how information on the novel coronavirus was found, understood, evaluated and used to help people behave in a preventive and health-promoting manner. Almost half of the population found it difficult at that time to process coronavirus-related information and did not know exactly what information they could trust.
Study in German with French summary.
Strengthening health literacy of disadvantaged groups
Older studies on Health literacy
The results of the representative "Health literacy survey" in 2015 and further information can be found in German or French on the following websites:
Last modification 30.11.2023