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New educational program shall improve communication with older patients


December 7, 2017

An international consortium including Jacobs University Bremen received a European Grant of € 450,000 to develop an educational program that aims to improve the communication competences of medical students and nursing students to communicate better with older patients with low health literacy. The grant is part of the EU Erasmus + program.

Older people with low health literacy often find it difficult to cope with illness and the associated treatment. They have difficulties to comprehend medical information and consequently adhere to medical advice and take their medication properly is often problematic. In general, these older adults have limited knowledge about illness and health, and their healthcare providers often have insufficient knowledge and skills to communicate effectively with them. Strengthening communicative skills of future healthcare providers can help improve care for these older people.

The so-called IMPACCT project is coordinated by University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands. The project is carried out in cooperation with partners from Ireland (National University of Ireland), Belgium (European Association of Institutions in Higher Education), Italy (Agenzia Regionale Sanitaria), Slovakia (Pavol Jozef Šafárik Universität in Košice) and Germany (Jacobs University). Sonia Lippke, Professor of Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, and her team at Jacobs University carry out key work within IMPACCT.

The coming three years the consortium will devote itself to developing, implementing and evaluating new communication education for future healthcare providers in Europe. All insights are also used to develop a range of digital classes in a Massive Online Open Course for a wide audience. All partners invest into joint efforts to enrich the education and to have an impact on the development of competences of students. “We expect that this will lead to more patient-centered communication affecting the health and well-being of older patients with low health literacy” says Dr. Andrea de Winter from University Medical Center Groningen. Also Prof. Sonia Lippke is convinced “Much can be done to improve skills of future health care providers and to enrich educational programs in times of digitalization and eHealth.”

Interested persons from the health sector (e.g. trainers and trainees, specialists, representatives of counseling centers for older people, and relevant decision-makers) who would like to contribute their experience, can contact Sonia Lippke via e-mail (s.lippke [at] or via phone (0421 200- 4730). "We hope for a great interest of experienced practitioners”, says Sonia Lippke.