Special Issue "Health Literacy Development among People with Chronic Diseases: Advancing the State of the Art and Learning from International Practices"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Care Sciences & Services".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Marie-Luise Dierks
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Hannover Medical School (MHH), Institute for Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health Systems Research, Hannover, Germany
Interests: health Literacy; self-management for people with chronic disease; patient empowerment; user needs
Dr. Jonas Lander
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Hannover Medical School (MHH), Institute for Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health Systems Research, Hannover, Germany
Interests: digital health information development and analysis; user needs assessments; health literacy training tools; patient and public involvement in health research
Dr. Melanie Hawkins
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Global Health and Equity, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Department of Health and Biostatistics, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne VIC 3122, Australia
Interests: health literacy; community co-design; validity testing theory and methodology; program evaluation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are delighted to act as Guest Editors for this Special Issue on “Health Literacy Development among People with Chronic Disease” in the International Journal for Environmental Research and Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.849). Chronic diseases account for a considerable part of the strain on health care systems. They are also burdensome for each affected individual and their families. In recent years, the concept of health literacy has been substantially elaborated on, particularly with regard to its definition, its transfer into the digital world, the development and conduct of interventions, and efforts to improve its measurement.

While advancements are uncontested, the specific demands of chronically ill people for health literacy skills, health literate environments, and challenges attached to these demands remain unchanged. Furthermore, specific aspects of health literacy advancements are either still unresolved or emergent because of dynamic developments in health and health care.

Aspects of unresolved or emergent health literacy advancements include, but are not limited to:

1. thoroughly implementing a modern vision of health literacy that is not a matter of individual deficit, but of organizational and societal responsibility
2. developing, testing and evaluating strategies for organizational health literacy promotion
3. assessing the suitability and effectiveness of digital support tools for chronically ill persons
4. addressing the barriers of low uptake of health literacy interventions by vulnerable groups
5. reviewing the evidence of health literacy interventions for chronically ill people and drawing conclusions about what works and where
6. better describing how established health literacy frameworks and models apply in practice and which elements interact with each other
7. further refining measurement instruments, e.g. with a lesser focus on self-assessments
8. analyzing how health literacy calls to action and actions plans are currently implemented and how they affect chronically ill persons
9. learning from successful cases of chronic disease-specific health literacy training for health professionals
10. proposing and agreeing on universal quality criteria for digital interventions that aim to improve health literacy in people with chronic conditions
11. ethical assessments of facilitators and barriers to high-quality health literacy interventions

Acknowledging that the international health literacy and chronic disease research community is aware of further challenges that extend the above-mentioned aspects, we warmly welcome contributions to these and related aspects to develop health literacy in individuals and communities and advance health literacy research and practice. We also appreciate descriptions of promising and thoroughly tested novel approaches and innovations that aim to empower people with chronic diseases. We encourage authors to submit not only case studies, but moreover, for example, randomized control trials, rapid and systematic reviews, measurement validity testing studies, commentaries, and studies that combine quantitative and qualitative methods.

We are very happy to receive your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Marie-Luise Dierks
Dr. Jonas Lander
Dr. Melanie Hawkins
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • health literacy
  • chronic disease
  • health communication
  • co-creation
  • measurement validity testing
  • effectiveness
  • quality indicators
  • e-health literacy
  • ethics
  • empowerment
  • health literate organizations
  • health literate environments

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Health Literacy Co-Design in a Low Resource Setting: Harnessing Local Wisdom to Inform Interventions across Fishing Villages in Egypt to Improve Health and Equity
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4518; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18094518 - 24 Apr 2021
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Fishermen in low resource settings have limited access to health services and may have a range of health literacy-related difficulties that may lead to poor health outcomes. To provide solutions and interventions based on their needs, co-design is considered best practice in such [...] Read more.
Fishermen in low resource settings have limited access to health services and may have a range of health literacy-related difficulties that may lead to poor health outcomes. To provide solutions and interventions based on their needs, co-design is considered best practice in such settings. This study aimed to implement a co-design process as a step towards developing health literacy interventions to improve health and equity in the Borollos Lake region of northern Egypt, a low resource setting with a high prevalence of chronic diseases. This study was guided by the Ophelia (Optimising Health Literacy and Access) process, a widely used and flexible co-design process that seeks to create local and fit-for-purpose health literacy solutions through genuine engagement and participation of community members and relevant stakeholders. Following a health literacy survey using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ), cluster analysis was conducted to identify the diverse health literacy profiles among the fishing communities. Seven health literacy profiles were identified. Vignettes, representing these profiles, were presented and discussed in ideas generation/co-design workshops with fishermen and health workers to develop intervention ideas. Seventeen fishermen, 22 wives of fishermen, and 20 nurses participated in four workshops. Fifteen key strategies across five themes, including ‘Enhancing education among fishing communities’, ‘Provide good quality health services’, ‘Financial support for health’, ‘Social support for health’, and ‘Promote better health-related quality of life among fishermen’, were generated. The ideas did not only target the individuals but also required actions from the government, non-government organizations, and fishermen syndicates. By harnessing local wisdom, the Ophelia process has created meaningful engagement with the local communities, leading to a wide range of practical and feasible solutions that match the special needs and environment of a low resource setting. Full article
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