Health literacy

Health literacy is defined as a person's ability to understand, access and use health information and health services.

The Public Health Innovation unit, part of the Deakin Population Health Strategic Research Centre has been pushing the boundaries of the health literacy field to take it from an appealing academic concept to a practical tool to facilitate programs to reduce social inequalities in health.The cutting-edge approach, including the development of a health literacy framework Ophelia, is attracting national and international interest.

Past Achievements

  • Development Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) - a new measure of health literacy, that not only comprehensively captures the concept of health literacy, but provides fine details on what needs to be done to improve systems and services Link
  • Comparison published health literacy tools used in Australia - findings indicating as many as one in four of Australians have inadequate health literacy Link
  • Systematic review common health literacy tools - review reveals current measures poorly reflect the health literacy concept and have psychometric weaknesses Link
  • Health Literacy, The Solid Facts - unit contributions to new World Health Organization publication on health literacy. Link


Current Projects

  • Ophelia - Development of the Victorian Health Literacy Response Framework. A partnership with Monash University and the Victorian Department of Health.
  • Validation Health Literacy Questionnaire - The HLQ is a new and comprehensive health literacy tool.
  • International HLQ - Adaptation and translation of HLQ into Italian, German, Greek, Chinese, Danish is completed with Dutch and Norwegian versions in preparation..
  • Development and validation Thai HLQ - with specialised modules for people living with chronic conditions and various disabilities
  • Taiwanese Children's Health Literacy Survey
  • Role of health literacy in cancer survivorship
  • Health literacy & migrant groups - includes Somali, Chinese and Indian people in Melbourne.


Student Opportunities
The unit has an active research program several PhD, Honours and Master of Public Health scholars. Further research opportunities occur regularly. More about student projects.


Information and Resources

Deakin Research An interview with Professor Richard Osborne about the development of the health literacy initiative Link

Health Literacy 2011 presentation by Professor Richard Osborne on health Literacy to Victorian Department of Health Link

Ophelia Website - Later in 2013 we will be launching a dedicated Orphelia website to promote information sharing and provide more in-depth information about the development of this key initiative in building the Health Literacy Framework

Ophelia News - A regular project newsletter will shortly be available which provides project updates Subscribe


Deakin Team

Professor Richard Osborne is the project lead overseeing all aspects of the project. He provides the overall intellectual leadership in intervention development, Health Literacy Framework development, and implementation.

Professor Rachelle Buchbinder (Monash) is the specific lead in measurement/psychometric development and interpretation of the Health Literacy Questionnaire, and clinical services aspects. She oversees the quantitative aspects of the project.

Dr Alison Beauchamp ARC Industry Fellow and Project Manager is the project manager who leads the project in understanding the way in which health literacy measurement can inform development of interventions that reduce social inequities in health, focusing on outcomes. She will make major contributions to the quantitative (social epidemiology) aspects of health literacy measurement.

Mr Roy Batterham is currently working on health literacy projects in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. Roy has high level expertise in designing and conducting evaluations for complex programs and the development of tools and measures, and is responsible for the overall design of the OPHELIA project.

Dr Sarity Dodson is an associate investigator on the Ophelia project. She oversees the Ophelia website and plays a key role in Ophelia training activities, intervention design and the provision of implementation support to study sites. 

Professor Gerald Elsworth leads the realist synthesis process, providing guidance on frameworks for synthesis, how the qualitative and quantitative data collection systems are specified and the synthesis analyses carried out.

Ms Melanie Hawkins specialises in qualitative data, and will have a key role in qualitative data collection and analysis for the Ophelia project.

Ms Crystal McPhee the project officer, contributing to data collection, overall research assistant tasks and every-day coordination and running of the project including liaising with the sites and stake holders.

LinkedIn Group - Health Literacy Questionnaire - A discussion forum for professionals has been established on LinkedIn