Health Literacy and Citizen engagement

Engaging citizens is one of Iscte-Health foundations. Patients, and citizens more broadly, are themselves agents of their health promotion, which can happen in the context of policies and structures that are, themselves promoters of such change. Health literacy takes on a primordial role to foster citizen empowerment and a critical reflection.

The role of Iscte-Health gains a double meaning in this context. By contributing to the promotion of the citizen engagement with health, that of its family as well as of the broad community it is simultaneously, contributing to increasing their health literacy, as well as to their individual heath, and even participation in public health efforts.

Communication in health should be seen as a valuable tool for public health promotion, leading to better prevention and motivation towards behavioural changes and compliance with treatments. All of which have long been established as critical by the healthcare community.

The intervention of Iscte Health in this area follows 6 basic principles:

i) Focus on health prevention and promotion

ii) Multiple level.

iii) Scientific evidence-based

iv) Multiple methods

v) Innovation

vi) Participated and co-creation

Examples of projects

Intervention in the area of promotion

1) SIforAGE – Social Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing

2) Seeyourage – intergenerational project of using mindfulness to fight agism in elderly people and children - in partnership with SCML –

3) Tecconhecimento: envolving elderly people with technologies – in partnership with SCML

4) QUASER: importance of quality of healthcare units in the recovery and satisfaction of patients (

5) HEALTHDOX- NORFACE: study on the consequences of de-humanization of health services in an analysis of health policies (

6) INHERIT H2020: focusing on inequalities and health, social and economic factors that affect health and well-being (

7) MYWeB FP7: on the youth wellbeing (

8) SOS PAIN: explores how social class can influence the evaluation and treatment of pain (further details can be obtained from the researcher Sónia Bernardes). (

Intervention and Research in the area of health literacy

1) Health literacy library: The heath literacy library aims to promote access to information about health, making people more autonomous regarding their health and of those around them. It is an initiative of the Ministry of Health (

2) The health literacy in Portugal project was an initiative of the Innovating in Health Program by the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian ( The survey used was developed and applied by a team from CIES-IUL (ISCTEIUL), the main conclusions are available at:

3) The project “Literacia em Saúde e Coesão Social em Populações Migrantes: Prevenção de Doenças Não Transmissíveis”, looking at the health literacy and social cohesion of migrant populations in the scope of non-communicable disease prevention, involves innovative approaches to engage these particularly difficult populations. More information at:

The original idea came from the need to empower and capacitate the citizen with chronic diseases regarding the use of digital health tools in an era were “Digital Health e Digital Therapeutics” are increasingly relevant. Also, to lead Iscte-Health regarding its educational offering to develop something new centred in the citizens, and through this brining to Iscte the end and main beneficiaries of a better societal health.

The concept has evolved to something that is not just a course but also an empowering initiative and a recognition that (expert patients) have knowledge and life-experiences that may be very valuable to health management and the creation of Digital Health solutions. Joining up patients, caregivers and start-ups/technical research groups, and prioritizing patient contribution valuation in a project, hence, called Patients-Up

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