Olomouc University Social Health Institute

The Olomouc University Social Health Institute (OUSHI) at the Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology is a scientific research centre for research and education in the area of health with the emphasis on its social and spiritual determinants. Its experts focus on themes involving mainly inequality in health and the health determinants of vulnerable groups, such as adolescents, seniors, the ill, and the Roma. Its tasks include educating students and young scientists, training supervisors, providing counselling services for academics, public and state institutions, students and laymen in the areas of health psychology and phenomenology of health.

The research conducted at OUSHI is followed up by a new PhD programme, Social and Spiritual Determinants of Health. Their current academic projects include investigations into the quality of life, life in retrospect, and the purpose of spirituality for seniors; the social determinants of health in school children, persons with social and health challenges; and the experience of illness and the quality of life in palliative patients. The Institute staff also facilitate in enhancing the professional potential of research teams in the area of promotion of healthy lifestyle and movement activity at Palacký University.

DIPEx methodology

The Institute is the leader in the Czech Republic in the area of the qualitative approach to health, which constitutes the main direction in its research. One of the most important outputs of the Institute is the project of a Czech validation and application of the certified DIPEx International (Database of Individual Patient Experiences) methodology developed at the Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford. Its aim is to improve understanding of people’s experiences of health, illness and healthcare across the world, and provide resources to support people living with a wide variety of health conditions, their families, friends and the health professionals involved in their care. The methodology is based on qualitative content analysis of in-depth interviews, their matching with individual areas of illnesses, and their online publication in a structured form for the use of the general public. The English DIPEx website was ranked by The Times as the second most useful portal on health. The Czech version of this excellent international methodology was unanimously supported in March 2015 by the Government Council for Older Persons and Population Ageing at the the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic. The website will provide the ill with support, structured information, and the opportunity to share their experience with people who have the same diagnosis.

Health literacy

Another important theme is the research of health literacy which relies on the application potential of the Ophelia (the OPtimising HEalth LIterAcy) protocol. It is a methodology developed by Prof Richard Osborn from Deakin University in Melbourne, one of the top world health protocols. The methodology is aimed at providing the optimal intervention targeted for a specific social group, which may show a measurable effect in the area of health.

Qualitative research into the spirituality of health

In the field of spiritual determinants of health, the main deficit of the Czech Republic is in the validation of tools for measurement of religious and nonreligious spirituality. A data collection was made so that scales may be published, which should be useful in researches in the area of health in adults and adolescents. Qualitative research is planned in the coming years.

Experts from prominent Czech and Slovak academic institutes participate in the research activities at OUSHI under the supervision of Peter Tavel from the Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology, Palacký University Olomouc.