Conceptualisation from the consumer perspective, assessment tools, policy development, health literacy intervention development, PhD student projects
Our unit, in collaboration with Professor Rachelle Buchbinder from Monash Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Cabrini Hospital, has been pushing the boundaries of this field to take it from an appealing academic concept to a practical tool to facilitate programs to reduce social inequalities in health. We undertook the first Australian systematic survey and developed the first consumer-centred measure (the HeLMS). This tool was superseded by the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ)Professor Osborne is a scientific advisor to the HLS-EU (Health Literacy Survey-European Union) and Roy Batterham is leading a collaboration with the Health Systems Research Institute of Thailand to develop a new person- and community-centred assessment tool. We are also major contributors to the development of the Taiwanese Children’s Health Literacy Test which has already been administered to 160,000 school children. Professor Osborne was an advisor to Public Health Wales and an active member of the IUHPE health literacy group.
- Development of the Victorian Health Literacy Response Framework (in partnership with Monash University and the Victorian Department of Health)
- Validation a comprehensive measure of health literacy: the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ)
- Survey of health literacy and the wellbeing and behaviour of people with diabetes across Australia
- Health literacy of the carers of cancer patients
Selected past projects
- Development of the Health Literacy Measurement Scale (HeLMS)
- Systematic review and critical appraisal of measures of health literacy
Specific contribution by Public Health Innovation to the field of health literacy
In a collaborative project led by Prof Buchbinder, we undertook the first population-based research using the three most commonly-used health literacy tools. The results of the project showed that ~25% of Australians have low health literacy. Our systematic review of all available tools revealed that these measures are blunt, and that they poorly reflect the concept of health literacy. Many of the measures have psychometric weaknesses, and they provide little guidance for public health or government interventions.
We explored new directions for measurement and undertook consultations with emergency department attendees, participants of education programs, and the general public, which lead to our development of a new patient-centred healthcare-focused measure of health literacy. This tool has been applied in several settings: general practice; with participants of a diabetes survey; with people with back pain; and with people diagnosed with head and neck cancer.
There is strong interest in our cutting-edge approach, which is evidenced by the invitations received to present our work locally and internationally. In 2011 and 2012, we accepted international invitations to present in Wales, Scotland, England, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Belgium, Taiwan and Thailand. We have delivered masterclass workshops in Austria (half-day master class: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute), and Switzerland (full-day master class: Swiss Society for Public Health and Swiss Alliance on Health Literacy).
We have contributed the upcoming highly influential World Health Organisation publication; Health Literacy - The Solid Facts.