Effective 27 August 2015, Ms Jany Rademakers, head of NIVEL research department in Utrecht, has been appointed as endowed professor ‘Health Literacy and Patient Participation’ at Maastricht University's Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML).
This strategic chair (0.2 FTE) will be placed at the School of Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), with the department of General Medical Practice serving as its home base. The chair will be embedded in CAPHRI in the new ‘Promoting Health and Personalised Care’ programme, overseen by programme directors Prof. Hein de Vries (Health Promotion department) and Prof. Trudy van der Weijden (General Medical Practice department). CAPHRI and NIVEL have been collaborating intensively in the area of research for many years. This alliance includes cooperation within the framework of the national CaRe research school. The new chair offers CAPHRI an opportunity to raise its profile in an innovative field, while enabling NIVEL to achieve further embedding in the academic world.
Over the past few years, healthcare policies at both national and international level have increasingly focused on stimulating patients/citizens to play an active role in their own health. Despite demand from both the field and policy makers, European research in this area has been limited so far. Not everyone is willing or able to actively participate in their own health, a process that requires specific skills. Those lacking these skills run a higher risk of poor health and end up using more healthcare. Health literacy is regarded as a key factor underlying social and economic health disparities.
The term health literacy refers to patient and citizen competences in terms of finding, understanding and applying information in the area of health, illness and care. This includes basic skills such as reading and mathematics, as well as aspects such as motivation, self-confidence and social skills or the ability to maintain a social network.
CAPHRI and NIVEL will be combining their knowledge and expertise in this new chair, while collaborating on various joint research projects. This is expected to yield more publications and greater social impact, while facilitating future acquisition efforts. The research in the field of health literacy and patient participation can be classified under four main themes:
1. Developing and validating measurement instruments;
2. Assessing the relationship between health literacy and the degree of participation on the one hand and various health outcomes on the other;
3. Gaining insight into patients' wishes, potential and needs with regard to active participation and required support;
4. Developing evidence-based interventions in this area and evaluating their effectiveness.