The COVID-HL Network

What are we doing in the COVID-HL Network?

What are we doing in the COVID-HL Network?

We are more than one hundred researchers from more than 50 different countries across all regions of the world. Our main interest that brings us together is our passion for research on health literacy. We believe that today health literacy is more important than ever not only because of digitalization and digital transformation of society but also because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted and permanently changed online health information environments, the way we communicate health, and our need for digital health services, digital health promotion, and digital education.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large amount of health information is available on the Internet considering issues such as diagnosis, treatment, protective behaviour, preventive measures, dashboard statistics and public recommendations. COVID-19 goes hand in hand with an overload of information, which is called an information epidemic a.k.a. ‘infodemic’. The infodemic is responsible for an overabundance of information on COVID-19 – some are accurate, some are false. People and systems need tools to distinguish false information from accurate information and to savely navigate the often complex and confusing online information environments on the Internet, social media, and further digital and media platforms.

COVID-19 has changed society and is putting a tremendous burden on our education and health care systems, economies, and people`s everyday life. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, health literacy and digital health literacy are a key tools for people to find, understand, appraise, and apply health information and take part in health communication – online, media, and social. People`s healthy decisions and protective behaviours as well as their adherence with COVID-19 policies and recommendations will help to slow the virus and its spread. Health literacy helps people to makes sense of the current situation. Health literacy empowers people to take greater control over their health and wellbeing and it will help them to protect themselves and others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to pursue health and social science research, the Public Health Centre Fulda (PHZF) at Fulda University of Applied Sciences and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health Literacy Research (IZGK) at Bielefeld University started this research initiative.

The main goals of COVID-HL are to:

  • establish a global network and community of research and practice on health literacy and digital health literacy,
  • advance the understanding of health literacy and digital health literacy and highlight action how it can be a critical tool to navigate information, sources and services,
  • translate knowledge into practical action and inform health policy making
  • increase global awareness among citizens and decision-makers towards (digital) health literacy in general as a tool to prevent from communicable diseases