Strengthening health literacy of disadvantaged groups

The FOPH supports efforts to improve the health literacy of disadvantaged target groups living in Switzerland. Health and social care professionals play a central role in this.

Being health literate means being empowered to make important day-to-day decisions about your own health and as a result, preventing the excessive or insufficient use of healthcare services and therefore avoiding inappropriate treatment and unnecessary costs.

An important precondition for health literacy is that the entire population - including disadvantaged target groups - has access to existing support structures and instruments, and that the political framework is in general favourable to health. Particularly people who are disadvantaged due to material, structural, psychosocial or behavioural factors report a low health literacy. Various socio-economic factors (education, occupational status and income) interact with other factors such as gender, age or migration background.

Infographic of key moments

Health and social care professionals play a central role in disseminating information and therefore also in strengthening the health literacy of disadvantaged people. In order to sensitize and support them in their task, the infographic "Empowerment of persons with low health literacy" is now available. It shows which measures, interventions and approaches can contribute to the development of an interactive and critical health literacy. The infographic and the underlying study can be found below in the infobox.

Health literacy practical guide

A practical guide developed by "Allianz Gesundheitskompetenz" (Health Literacy Alliance of Switzerland) also provides advice on how experts can promote the health literacy level of patients (see Infobox). On behalf of the FOPH, the website migesplus aims to reinforce the health literacy of migrants and other disadvantaged target groups by providing information and teaching materials that are disseminated in the form of health promotion and integration programmes or language courses. Target groups that are particularly difficult to reach are addressed through Femmes-Tische (Women’s Roundtable) programmes.

Further information

Health Literacy

We are committed to exploring and empowering the health literacy of the Swiss population. The results of the Swiss Health Literacy Survey show that there is potential for improvement.

Your rights and participation as a patient

Your relationship with your doctor involves rights and obligations. Here you can find out about your specific rights at the doctor's and in hospital, and in relation to living wills, organ donation and counselling.

Last modification 03.08.2023

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Healthcare and Related Professions Division
Health Equity Section
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern

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