Health literacy in Ireland

December 06, 2017

Ireland was one of the eight countries which participated in a survey on health literacy which was initiated by the European Union in 2011. In Ireland, this inquiry was conducted by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA). In reference to the survey, 10.3% of Ireland’s population showed ‘inadequate general HL’, 29.7% were reported to have ‘problematic general HL’, 38.7% had ‘sufficient general HL’ and 21.7% proofed to have ‘excellent general HL’. In comparison to the other seven participating countries, Ireland scored quite well showing one of the lowest rates of ‘inadequate HL’ and one of the highest proportions of ‘excellent HL’ (Sørensen et al. 2015).


Example from practice

The independent charity organisation NALA holds prime responsibility in the field of health literacy in Ireland. The institution provides resources as well as it organises frequent initiatives, therefore cooperating with important players in the healthcare sector such as hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and governmental departments. Current projects of NALA are e.g. working with hospitals to become health literacy-friendly, launching Ireland’s first quality mark for pharmacies and general practitioners and developing communication guidelines in association with the Health Information and Quality Authority Ireland (HIQA) (NALA 2018).


One important governmental initiative of the Irish health department was the release of ‘Healthy Ireland - A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013 – 2025’. Including several governmental departments, the project aims to set health literacy on the agenda of future policy development and focuses on informational and educational campaigns (Department of Health 2013).

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