Health literacy

Improving health together: targeting co-production – with patient involvement as the guiding principle.

For Careum, the involvement of patients and their relatives is key. Their perspectives and requirements as “experts based on experience” form the basis for research, training and education and services. Important cross-cutting issues:

  • Living with chronic illness and multimorbidity
    Non-communicable chronic conditions are regarded as “slow-motion disaster” and pose major challenges for healthcare systems in general, but particularly for patients and their relatives in their everyday lives. For elderly people, living with several chronic conditions is the norm rather than the exception. This is known as multimorbidity. Innovative approaches involving the patients themselves can encourage independent action and participatory decision-making.

  • Health literacy
    One in two people living with at least one long-term illness has a limited or insufficient level of health literacy. For healthcare provision, prevention and disease management, it is relevant to have access to healthcare information and to be able to understand it, assess it and apply it. Supporting health literacy means putting people in a position where they can participate in making decisions and act independently within the healthcare system.

  • Self-management support and empowerment
    Supporting patients and relatives in managing illness and disability in their everyday lives and enabling them to participate in decisions on health-related issues can help to maintain health, prevent illness and improve both quality of care and patient safety.

Health Literacy Zurich

From 2019, the Careum Foundation and the Department of Health of the Canton of Zurich will join forces in the "Health Literacy Zurich" programme in order to strengthen the health literacy of residents and health organisations in the Canton of Zurich. The first project is a self-check for health organisations.

Evivo Network Association

As a result of the patient education project (2010–2014) the Evivo course programme Gesund und aktiv leben” (Healthy and active living) was introduced in Switzerland and German-speaking Europe. It is based on the Chronic Disease Self-Management Programme (CDSMP) offered by the University of Stanford (USA) and supports people with chronic conditions or disabilities, as well as their relatives, to enable them to lead a healthcare-aware and self-managed life. The “Healthy and active living” course has been run successfully since 2014 by the “Evivo Network” Association, whose founding members include Careum.

Further information

Find out more about the subject of patient education in the Careum blog, in the “Positionspapier Patientenbildung” (Patient education policy paper) published by the Careum Foundation and in the Careum Working Paper 6.


Rosenbaum, L., & Lamas, D. (2011). Facing a «slow-motion disaster» – the UN meeting on noncommunicable diseases. New England Journal of Medicine, 365 (25), 2345-2348. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1112235

Barnett, K., Mercer, S., Norbury, M., Watt, G., Wyke, S., & Guthrie, B. (2012). Epidemiology of multimorbidity and implications for health care, research, and medical education: a cross-sectional study. The Lancet, 380 (9836), 37-43. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60240-2

Sørensen, K., et al. (2012). Health literacy and public health: a systematic review and integration of definitions and models. BMC Public Health, 12:80. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-80

WHO-Regionalbüro für Europa (2016). Gesundheitskompetenz: Die Fakten. Hg. von I. Kickbusch, J. M. Pelikan, J. Haslbeck, F. Apfel, & A. D. Tsouros. Zürich: Kompetenzzentrum Patientenbildung, Careum Stiftung. Volltext

Osborn, R., & Squires, D. (2012). International perspectives on patient engagement: results from the 2011 Commonwealth Fund Survey. The Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 35 (2), 118-128. doi: 10.1097/JAC.0b013e31824a579b


Careum Foundation
Health literacy

Dr. Dominique Vogt
Pestalozzistrasse 3
CH-8032 Zurich

T +41 43 222 64 28