Health literacy – what, why and how? A brief guide into the pharmacists’ role.

Presentation abstract

According to the WHO, health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to obtain, process and understand the basic information to use services and make appropriate health decisions.

At different points in one’s life course, everyone uses health literacy skills. Low levels of such skills are related to decreased control over individual and family health, more frequent use of emergency services and a higher number of hospitalisations, leading to reduced quality of life. Increased health literacy contributes to health promotion and disease prevention, thus contributing to health services’ effectiveness and efficiency and the sustainability of health systems.

Healthcare professionals are a key factor for the promotion of health literacy among the population. It is well recognised that pharmacists are healthcare professionals in close contact with the public. Pharmacists can play an essential role in empowering people, improving their autonomy and critical thinking regarding health-related choices.

This presentation aims to approach core themes involving health literacy and identify opportunities for health literacy promotion in different contexts and stages of a person life cycle. Considering the pharmacy setting, the main methods, means, and obstacles for promoting health literacy will be addressed.

Brief biography

Afonso Miguel Cavaco holds a PhD in Pharmacy Practice and Policy from UCL (UK), a post-doc in Health Communication from Johns Hopkins University (USA) as a Fulbright Fellow, and a Docent title from Helsinki University (Finland). He is currently an associated professor and R&D developer in social pharmacy at the University of Lisbon, Faculty of Pharmacy (Portugal). He is a visiting scholar at Vilnius (Lithuania) and Tartu (Estonia) Universities.

Afonso is actively involved in interdisciplinary practice research and contributing to the education of pre and postgrad pharmacists and nurses. Scientific outputs comprise book chapters and over 85 articles published in indexed journals with impact factor. Afonso also presents in science and professional-related events, including plenary sessions by invitation, workshops leading, and oral communications. Educational deliverables comprise the implementation of innovative pedagogical approaches, such as pharmacy practice simulation. His international profile encompasses active roles in European scientific associations (e.g. EACH) and international events organization (e.g. ISPW).