Mine Durusu Tanrıöver

Speech Title: Overview of the health literacy of the Turkish population

Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Ankara, Turkey
Hacettepe University Vaccine Institute, Department of Immunization Policies, Ankara, Turkey
Hacettepe University Vaccine Institute, Board Member

She graduated from Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine in 2000 and finished her residency training in internal medicine in 2005 in the same university. She has been serving as the consultant of the Emergency Department and Acute Care Unit for several years, mainly admitting patients with acute decompensation of chronic diseases; lower respiratory tract infections, organ failure and acute, undiagnosed conditions.

Dr. Mine Durusu Tanriover worked as the Co-Chief of Hacettepe University Oncology Hospital and the Quality Coordinator of Hacettepe University Hospitals, a Joint Commission International accredited, 1200-bed academic medical center between 2016-2020. Her research area mainly consists of adult vaccination, influenza, quality improvement and patient safety. She has been involved in the Global Influenza Hospital Surveillance Network project as an investigator and site coordinator since 2012 and participated as an in the phase 3 clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines available in Turkey.

Representing the Turkish Society of Internal Medicine, she is the lead of the Medical Specialty Council Curriculum Preparation Task Force. She is the founder and the first chair of the Young Internists Working Group and honorary fellow of the European Federation of Internal Medicine (EFIM). She is a member of the Quality and Professional Issues and the Adult Vaccination (ADVICE) Working Groups of EFIM and Editor-in-Chief of EFIM Academy. Dr. Durusu Tanriover is currently the Secretary of the Middle East, Eurasia and Africa Influenza Stakeholders Network.

She believes that we are what we eat and inhale, and a healthy life begins with healthy food, healthy mind and being a part of the nature. Her main area of interest outside her academic activities is mindfulness practices, farming and spending time in her edible balcony garden. She is married with two children.


Modern healthcare systems can be quite sophisticated for majority of the people seeking for healthcare. Individuals getting service within this system have various roles beyond being patients: they share the responsibility of being informed on their health problems and the services offered, having knowledge on their rights and responsibilities, making decisions and being competent on health-related matters. The doctor-patient encounter under non-optimal conditions (insufficient time spared to doctor-patient relation, the mood or the cognitive state of the patient or the doctor, hearing or visual disabilites of the elderly, etc.) further hampers an effective communication.

Health literacy is closely related to the general literacy and entails the knowledge, competencies and motivation of the people in order to make judgments and informed decisions related to healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion throughout life. When considered in this context, health literacy may be defined as the capacity of an individual to access, understand and appraise the basic health information and services.

Several studies have been carried out to describe the health literacy level of the Turkish population. The first large epidemiological study carried out by Tanriover and colleagues aimed to validate the Turkish translation of the Health Literacy Survey – European Union (EU) questionnaire developed for the European Health Literacy Survey (HLS-EU) and to investigate the health literacy level of the adult population in Turkey (Tanriover MD et al. Health Literacy Survey- Turkey, Sağlık-Sen Yayınları, 2014). The mean general health literacy index of the adult population in Turkey was estimated as 30.4 over a scale of 50 points. Categorically, it was found that 64.6 percent of the population fell in “inadequate” (24.5 %) or “problematic” (40.1 %) health literacy category. At the time that study was undertaken, this translated into almost 35 million adult individuals having “inadequate” or “problematic” health literacy in Turkey. Subsequently, another similar epidemiological survey demonstrated that 68.9 percent of the population was in “inadequate” (30.9 %) or “problematic” (38 %) health literacy category (Özkan S et al. Health Literacy Level and Related Factors Survey- Turkey, Ministry of Health, 2018). Low levels of health literacy were shown to be correlated with lower educational level and socioeconomic status, and advanced age. It is evident that focused research to define the root causes of low health literacy should be carried out and structured policies should be developed to promote health literacy on a multidimensional and multisectoral level, including cultural substructure, health system and educational system of the society.