Cross-cutting topics

Health equity

The notion of health equity refers to a principle of social justice and proportionality. It implies that resources needed to promote people's health should be distributed fairly and adjusted to each individual's needs. Fairness in health helps to counter social inequalities in health. Our healthcare system must be accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, language, origin, social status or level of education. Studies show that fewer people with a low level of education engage in regular physical activity, eat a balanced diet or are non-smokers. They are also more likely to suffer from hypertension, diabetes or obesity.

Health inequalities

These are differences in the state of health of individuals that are not due to the environment or socio-economic conditions, but to their age, for example, with an increased risk of developing chronic diseases over the years. By extension, social inequalities in health refer to differences in health associated with social advantages or disadvantages (e.g. income, level of education, social inclusion). Tackling social inequalities in health promotes health equity, which means that all people in all social groups have the same opportunities to achieve an optimal level of health without being disadvantaged because of their social, economic, environmental and cultural conditions.

Health literacy

The healthcare system is becoming increasingly complex. Health literacy (or health skills) encompasses an individual's motivation, knowledge and ability to find health information, understand it, evaluate it and, on this basis, make decisions that have a positive impact on their health. Consequently, patients need to be informed and have sufficient health skills to be able to understand health messages. These skills must be fostered by appropriate framework conditions. Strengthening the health skills of the population is one of the objectives of the Health 2030 strategy of the Swiss Federal Council.

Promotion of self-management

Self-management refers to what people with long-term illnesses and their loved ones can do to reestablish an equilibrium in their lives with the disease and its daily challenges. The people involved and their loved ones can thus develop their skills and become actively involved in the healthcare process, in partnership with professionals and other players involved in self-management support. In this way, self-management contributes to a better quality of life and the best possible health for the involved people and their families. Self-management does, however, require significant efforts on the part of the affected people and their families to continuously adapt to circumstances throughout their life course.

Informal caregivers

The term "Informal caregiver" is gaining ground in the public debate to describe people who provide help to someone close to them because of their state of health, disability or age. Informal caregivers provide many services not only to their loved ones, but also to society as a whole. Indeed, their work is usually unpaid and clearly helps to reduce healthcare costs. Yet their activities are not always visible, and informal caregivers have to cope with many difficulties, such as exhaustion, isolation, lack of recognition and support, and juggling between their caring activities and paid employment.

Digital health

Technological advances are changing the healthcare system in depth and at a rapid pace. Information and communication technologies are playing an increasingly important role, for example in diagnosis and treatment and in long-term therapies, but also in prevention and data management. While they open up new prospects, these advances also give rise to new issues, in particular the respect of ethical standards. So, this is a time to establish priorities and ride on the current trends to seize the opportunities offered by the digital transformation.

Complex nursing interventions

Nursing interventions are complex by nature; their characteristics correspond to the definition of a complex intervention in health as defined by the "Medical Research Council framework of complex interventions in health": such interventions often have multiple components with interactions between them; they require expertise and skills to deliver or receive the intervention, and the components or the intervention as a whole may be flexible or tailored to suit an individual. The research carried out at HEdS-FR on complex nursing interventions is guided by this framework, which encourages researchers to develop, test, evaluate and implement complex interventions in care, and also to develop key elements that will enable innovative interventions to be adjusted to what is required in the field.