Staff profile - Richard Osborne

Staff image

Prof Richard Osborne

Position: Chair In Public Health
role description
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Health
Department: School of Health & Soc. Dev.
Campus: BC level 3, Melbourne Burwood Campus
Phone: +61 3 924 46999 +61 3 924 46999
Executive Assistant: Jennie Ip
Phone Number: +61 3 924 43073



Professor Osborne is the Chair of Public Health at Deakin University. He holds a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellowship focusing on Global Health Literacy Development and Equity. He is Affiliate Professor of Health Literacy, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

He provides research and consulting services the World Health Organisation (WHO), directly to governments and to health insurance organisations. His work is contributing to health systems improvement initiatives in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. He initiated and led the Ophelia (OPtimising HEalth LIteracy and Access) approach, a framework for health systems improvement through health literacy development and equity. This improvement system is being applied in developed and developing countries.

An epidemiologist and health services researcher, Prof Osborne has a strong track record in initiating and leading large collaborative research projects. He has authored over 170 peer reviewed papers. His career research income has been over $19M. He has supervised over 20 higher degree students. He has received several awards for his research and supervision, including NHMRC 1 of the Best 10 Research Projects of 2012.

Prof Osborne is a recognised international leader in health literacy, measurement science, and approaches to implementation. Over the past 15 years his tools have come to be used locally and globally, including the Health Education Impact Questionnaire (heiQ), Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) and the Ophelia (OPtimising HEalth LItercy and Access) process. He made critical contributions to the Taiwan Children’s Health Literacy Measure and the EU Health Literacy Survey. He co-led the development of the e-Health Literacy Framework and Questionnaire. Prior to the health literacy and related work, he worked extensively in musculoskeletal health and co-designed and implemented the OAHKS (Osteoarthritis Hip and Knee Service) reform for the Victorian government with clinicians, managers and policymakers.

Prior to joining Deakin he developed the Influenza Intensity and Impact Questionnaire (FluiiQ) which is used globally as a key patient reported outcome (PRO) measure in global vaccine and pharmaceutical trials. This tool has been so successful he established a company, Measured Solutions for Health P/L to manage the Intellectual Property and global distribution. The FluiiQ has been translated to over 40 language variations. 

Richard and his team at Deakin University Australia have generated new approaches to participatory research, inclusion and community consultation. In the UK, using the Ophelia approach, he is currently working in service improvement and equity with Public Health Wales, NHS Scotland, and with teams based in Newcastle and Oldham. This is in addition to work with marginalised and segregated groups (in Slovakia in Roma settlements, and South Africa within informal settlements), as well as in rural and regional communities (Thailand, Australia) and other countries.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Royal Melb Inst. of Technology, 1991

Career highlights

  • NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship
  • NHMRC Population Health Career Development Award Fellowship (2006-10).
  • Recognised by the NHMRC in 2012 as producing 1 of the 10 Best Research Projects 2012. Chosen from among the thousands of NHMRC-funded medical research projects in Australia.
  • Universitas 21 Solander Fellowship (1996) Lund University, Sweden,
  • Arthritis Victoria Lorin Prentice Memorial Award for contribution to musculoskeletal research (2011).
  • Developed the Health Education Impact Questionnaire (heiQ) used in 20+ countries 
  • Developed the Influenza Impact Questionnaire (FluiiQ) used in global trials as a primary or secondary outcome. Available in over 30 languages
  • Developed the Multi-Attribute Prioritisation Tool (MAPT) which used with 10s of 1000s of people pa to improve care and equity in the delivery of hip and knee replacement surgery across Victoria and other states. 


1992- Australasian Epidemiological Association (Founding Member of the Victorian Chapter)

1996- Public Health Association of Australia

2002- Australian Rheumatology Association

2000- International Society of Quality of Life Research

2005- American College of Rheumatology

2006- Health Services Research Association of Australia & New Zealand

2006- International Union of Health Promotion and Education

LinkedIn profile


Teaching Interests

Anita Trezona

Conceptualising the Health Literate Organisation

The aim of this project is to develop a conceptual framework that describes the characteristics of an organisation that is able to identify and respond to the variable and changing health literacy needs and strengths of individuals and communities. The conceptual framework will inform the development of a suite of tools and resources to support organisations identify their strengths and limitations, potential opportunities for reform, prioritise actions, and plan, implement and evaluate strategies for addressing the health literacy needs of their community.

Supervision: Prof Richard Osborne, Prof Tony LaMontagne, Dr Sarity Dodson (External).

Brad Astbury
Sustainability of Health Promotion Pilots: Towards a Middle-Range Theory

The primary objective is to develop a middle range theory (MRT) of program sustainability. The MRT will comprise a realist analysis of mechanisms that contribute to sustainability of pilot health promotion programs, and an explanation of how these mechanisms play out in different contexts and policy domains. The secondary objective is to examine the utility of modifications that will be made to protocols for conducting realist synthesis.

Supervision: Professor Richard Osborne, Professor Gerald Elsworth

Meagan Blackburn

Understanding low back pain to improve patient care.

Supervision: Prof Richard Osborne, Prof Rachelle Buchbinder (Monash), Prof Bob Lewin (UK)

Rhonda Garad

Enhancing health literacy for cultually and lingustically diverse communities across Victoria

Working with three culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) groups; Chinese, Indian and Somali to develop, in-depth health and sociocultural profiles of each group, make recommendations for the adaption of the HLQ to increase utility in CaLD communities, identify positive deviance behaviours, effective interventions to increase health literacy and re-orient health services to meet the cultural needs of CaLD communities.

Supervision: Prof Richard Osborne, A/Prof Liz Hoban.

Rebecca Jessup (Northern Hospital)

Using health literacy to understand and improve hospital quality and safety

Supervision: Prof Richard Osborne, Dr Alison Beauchamp, Prof Rachelle Buchbinder (Monash),

Melanie Hawkins

Interpretation of health literacy responses in context: validation in clinical and cultural contexts

Responses to health-related patient reported outcome (PRO) tools are used to make decisions that affect treatment for individuals through to development of national policies. Contemporary literature about validation of PRO tools stresses the importance of ensuring the adequacy and appropriateness of the interpretation and use of PRO questionnaire responses for the intended purpose. The research of this PhD argues that there is a step between these two positions: before a tool that is developed and validated in one context can be used in a new context, it must first be validated for that new context through determining measurement equivalence of constructs with the original tool. Validation of a tool in a new context is a necessary precursor to the validation of the interpretations and uses of the responses derived from the tool in that context. The research will examine validity in context through the lens of health literacy PRO measurement tools in clinical and cultural contexts.

Supervision: Prof Richard Osborne, Dr Alison Beauchamp, Professor Gerald Elsworth.

Expertise categories

Expertise summary

Public Health Health Literacy Self-management PROs - Patient reported outcomes Questionnaire development and validation Influenza trials Health inequality Whole systems approaches to healthcare reform Implementation science Intervention development science Clinical trial design

Knowledge areas

  • Health Systems Improvement
  • Public Health
  • Health Literacy
  • Self-management
  • Influenza 
  • Outcomes assessment and clinical trial design
  • Musculoskeletal diseases
  • Implementation science
  • Whole systems approaches to health care reform
  • Co-creation and inclusion of all stakeholders in systems redesign
  • South East Asia and European health literacy

Conferences and seminars

Professor Osborne has convened, or been a member of the organising committee for, a number of international conferences: Convener and Chair, Australian Chronic Diseases Self-Management Conference: The Way Forward, Sofitel, Melbourne, July 2007 Member, Organising committee for the International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL), Toronto, Canada, October 2007. Member, Organising committee (fund raising), Population Health Congress, Brisbane, July 2008 Convener and Chair, International Congress on Chronic Diseases Self-Management Conference: Innovation and evidence of effectiveness, Melbourne, November 2008. Eleventh International Forum on Primary Care Research on Low Back Pain, Melbourne, March 2011 Professor Osborne is frequently invited to give keynote presentations and workshops: Patient centred outcomes by design the identification and incorporation of patient values into outcomes assessment. American College of Rheumatology, Washington DC, USA, 2006. What should an effective whole of system approach to patient education and self-management look like? Insights from Australia. French Prevention Days. French National Institute for Prevention and Health Education. Paris April 2009. Beyond the Burden Developing National Service Improvement Frameworks for musculoskeletal diseases: Global Musculoskeletal Health Initiatives. American College of Rheumatology, Philadelphia, USA 2009. How to Ensure Measures of Personal Life Impact are Valid'? Patient Perspective in Outcomes Research Study Group. American College of Rheumatology, 16 21 October, Philadelphia, USA. Perspectives in Building the World's Best Questionnaire. Eastern Canada Health Outcomes Conference. June 2009, Montreal, QC, Canada. The development of the heiQ (Health Education Impact Questionnaire) and application as quality and monitoring system in Australia. 1st Asia Pacific Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education. 18-19 July 2009, Japan. Health literacy the fundamental element for self-management support program design and evaluation. International Conference on Support for Self Management of Health, Stirling, Scotland, UK 2010. Adding Living to Life: Policy Practice and Prevention of Chronic Conditions- an international perspective on collaboration", Welsh Assembly Government and Public Health, Wales 10-11 Nov 2010

Media appearances

Transforming health services: does health literacy provide the key?  The Health Foundation, UK

Using Ophelia to optimise health literacy and equity Public Health Wales, UK

The Health Report  Pod cast

The basics on health literacy You-tube video

Innovative project aims to improve health literacy - Crikey 

Health literacy key to improving health outcomes in South East Asia - press release


Awards and prizes

1997-00 NHMRC Public Health Postdoctoral Training Fellowship.

2006 International Bone and Joint Decade Fellow (one of two international awards).

2006 Allied Health Prize, Melbourne Health Medical Research Week.

2006 U21 Solander Fellowship: Advancing arthritis public health research and evidence-informed policy, an Australia-Sweden collaborative.

2006-10 NHMRC Population Health Fellowship (Career Development Award) Advancing arthritis public health research and evidence-informed policy in Australia.

2010 Arthritis Victoria Inaugural Helen Moran Award.

2011 Lorin Prentice Memorial Award for contribution to arthritis research, Arthritis Victoria.

2014 NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship


Research projects

1. Ophelia (OPtimising HEalth LIteracy and Access): The grounded development of a health literacy response framework for Victoria.

2. Development and validation of the e-Health Literacy Framework and Questionnaire

3. Development and validtion of the CHAT - the Conversational health literacy assessment tool

4. Development and validattion of The Organisational Health Literacy Responsiveness (Org-HLR) Self-Assessment Guide

5. Health literacy and access to services in primary care

6. Development small towns cancer plans in the Grampians region

7. Development and validation of the ISHAQ: Information and support for action questionnaire

8. Maximising the validity of global research and evaluation: A translation integrity protocol

9. Development and implementation of health literacy interventions in the acute setting (Northern Hospital)

10. Health literacy in diverse migrant groups (Somali, Indian and Chinese)

Outline of NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship research program (2014-2018)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health literacy as “the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health”. Health and social policies identify health literacy as a key determinant of a person’s ability to manage their health and ensure equitable access to and use of services. Low health literacy is associated with higher mortality, frequent hospitalisation, lower use of preventive healthcare (e.g., immunisation), poor adherence to medications, and communication problems. The prevalence of low health literacy in Australia has been estimated at more than half the population. Given ever-increasing demands on the public dollar and for health equity, the vision for this Fellowship is to advance health literacy approaches so the full potential of these can be realised to reduce health inequalities and disease burden.
Poor measurement tools have stymied the field. This Fellowship will improve measurement approaches, characterise health literacy across settings, and empirically define health literacy profiles that are markers for poor outcomes. These will data assist policy development and identify priorities for interventions.

The Fellowship will involve developing and implementing system-wide interventions to improve health literacy and health equity. In partnership with hospitals in Australia and Asia, our large community intervention in Victoria will be redesigned for application in hospitals. The Fellowship will advance public health through combining strong community and organisational engagement with intervention development, and through advancing implementation science. Toolkits will be developed and tested to assist implementation. Durable partnerships with government agencies and the WHO will ensure the outputs of the Fellowship generate transformative and lasting improvements in health and equity across settings.

Research interests

  1. Health Systems Improvement
  2. Health Literacy 
  3. Self-management
  4. Methods for questionnaire development and validation
  5. Influenza - Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) measurement
  6. Research methods that create whole of system solutions that maximise both health equality and health outcomes
  7. Back pain
  8. Arthritis
  9. Multi-morbidity 

Research grants

Total career research income is over AUD$19,000,000

Research groups

Health Systems Improvement Unit, Deakin University

Health Literacy Questionnaire on LinkedIn

Research page



Alison Beauchamp, Rachelle Buchbinder, Sarity Dodson, Roy W. Batterham, Gerald R. Elsworth, Crystal McPhee, Louise Sparkes, Melanie Hawkins and Richard H. OsborneDistribution of health literacy strengths and weaknesses across socio-demographic groups: a cross-sectional survey using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ)

Osborne RH, Batterham R, Elsworth G, Hawkins M, Buchbinder R. The grounded psychometric development and initial validation of the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ). BMC Public Health 2013, 13:658. 

Kayser L, Kushniruk A, Osborne RH, Norgaard O, Turner P. Enhancing the Effectiveness of Consumer-Focused Health Information Technology Systems Through eHealth Literacy: A Framework for Understanding Users' Needs. JMIR Human Factors 2;e9 

Elsworth GE, Nolte S, Osborne RH. Factor Structure and Measurement Invariance of the Health Education Impact Questionnaire: Does the Subjectivity of the Response Perspective Threaten the Contextual Validity of Inferences? Sage Open 2015.

Batterham R, Buchbinder R, Beauchamp A, Dodson S, Elsworth GE, and Osborne RH. The OPtimising HEalth LIterAcy (Ophelia) process: study protocol for using health literacy profiling and community engagement to create and implement health reform. BMC Public Health 2014 14:694 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-694

Bo A, Friis K, Osborne RH, Terkildsen T. National indicators of health literacy: ability to understand health information and to engage actively with health care providers – a population based survey among Danish adults. BMC Public Health 2014 14:1095 doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-1095

Maunsell M, Lauzier S, Brunet J, Pelletier S, Osborne RH, Campbell S. Health-related empowerment in cancer: Validity of scales from the health education impact questionnaire. Cancer 2014 120(20):3228-36 doi: 10.1002/cncr.28847

Kroon FPB, van Der Burg LRA, Buchbinder R, Osborne RH, Johnston RV, Pitt V. Self-management education programmes for osteoarthritis (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014; Issue 1. Art. No. CD008963. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008963.pub2

Ciciriello, S., Johnston, R.V., Osborne, R.H., Wicks, I., deKroo, T., Clerehan, R., O'Neill, C., Buchbinder, R. Multimedia educational interventions for consumers about prescribed and over-the-counter medications. 2013 The Cochrane database of systematic reviews pp. CD008416

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