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Health literacy is a person’s ability to access, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health and is considered a global health issue by the World Health Organisation. It is a key asset for all of us when it comes to making decisions about our health and for improving health outcomes. It is particularly important for people living with pain to help them understand and actively manage their health. This is why health literacy is the theme chosen by the new President of the European Pain Federation, Brona Fullen, for the President’s Campaign.

The ‘Plain Talking’ health literacy campaign is targeted at both clinicians and people living with pain. Over the next three years, the Health Literacy Working Group will increase awareness about the concept and impact of health literacy. It will also focus on improving communication between people living with pain and clinicians by developing a series of materials and useful resources for all.


People living with pain have a right to understand their condition and clinicians should communicate this in a clear and comprehensible way by adjusting their language to meet the person’s needs. The outcome of this is improved knowledge and empowerment for the person living with pain and the capacity to engage in a meaningful way with their clinician.



Please contact if you wish to get involved in the campaign or if you want to know more about it.



  • A working group formed by medical doctors, physiotherapists, and nurses, joined forces to define campaign goals and focus under the leadership of Laura Mackey, Chair of the Health Literacy working group.
  • First brainstorm meeting was held in October 2020. Finally, the campaign title was defined as ‘Plain Talking’ and the aim of the campaign was set as improving the communication between healthcare professionals and chronic pain patients.
  • Between March-June 2021, the working group launched a far-reaching survey, which was translated to thirteen different languages, in order to understand the challenges and the needs of  people living with chronic pain.
  • In April 2021, the working group held an online workshop with chronic pain patients, in order to complement the survey and its results.
  • Following the results of the survey and the online workshop, the working group developed a series of written materials, such as an infographic, a factsheet and three health literacy guides, which were complemented by three health literacy video guides. All these materials were launched at the 2022 EFIC Congress in Dublin.
  • The Plain Talking campaign was a prominent theme at the 2022 EFIC Congress in Dublin.
  • In April 2022, the working group held a workshop at the 2022 EFIC Congress in Dublin, entitled ‘Interactive and Communicative Health Literacy Strategies in Chronic Pain Management’.
  • University College Dublin MSc Physiotherapy students used the results from the survey and online workshop to write an academic paper for their MSc dissertation. The WG has been sent a draft for comment before the paper is submitted for publication. The students presented the results as a research poster at EFIC 2022.
  • In 2022, the Plain Talking campaign won the 2021 Brain, Mind and Pain (BMP) Best Practices Award in the area of access to treatment, service and support. You can read more about it here. 

Prof. Brona Fullen

Dr. Laura Mackey

Prof. Nadja Nestler

Prof. Harriet Wittink

Dr. Magdalena Kocot-Kępska


Find out more about the campaign in this video with Dr. Laura Mackey, Chair of the Health Literacy Working Group.



The Health Literacy Working Group developed a survey in order to better understand the needs and challenges of the people living with chronic pain. This survey served as the basis of the campaign and helped the Working Group develop the right materials for the campaign. The survey was translated into several languages and it was clear from the results, that more written and visual resources were needed for both patients and clinicians.



Find out more about Interactive Health Literacy with this infographic, useful for patients and clinicians. Download the infographic here. 

The Working Group has developed a Health Literacy Guide for healthcare professionals, patients and the general public, as well as a Health Literacy Factsheet. Download the Plain Talking Booklet here.