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 & Social Development
Campus: BC level 3, Melbourne Burwood Campus
Phone: +61 3 92446999 +61 3 92446999
Mobile: 0488 919 722 0488 919 722



Prof Osborne is an epidemiologist and health services researcher. In 1995 he completed a lab and epidemiology PhD in breast cancer survival. He then joined the Centre for Health Program Evaluation, Monash University, to develop the Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL) instrument. In 1996, with a NHMRC Public Health Postdoctoral Training Fellowship, he joined the Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, Melbourne University, supervised by Prof John Hopper. This included a year at the Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.

He was then awarded a NHMRC Population Health Career Development Award Fellowship (2006-10). This work was recognised by the NHMRC as 1 of the 10 Best Research Projects 2012, chosen from among the thousands of NHMRC-funded medical research projects in Australia.

He has also received a Universitas 21 Solander Fellowship (1996) Lund University, Sweden, and in 2011 he was awarded the Arthritis Victoria Lorin Prentice Memorial Award for contribution to musculoskeletal research.
He joined Deakin in 2009 and holds academic leadership roles: Chair of Public Health, Co-Director of Population Health Strategic Research Centre, and Associate Head School (Research). With these responsibilities, he is a Chief Investigator (CI) on a NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence, NHMRC Partnership Project and a NHMRC Project Grant.

In the past 5 years he has published/in press 81 papers has an H index of 30. He was Associate Editor of the US journal, Arthritis Care & Research. He supervised 6 PhD scholars to completion, and currently supervises 6 PhD scholars. His career research income as Chief Investigator is over $18million and he has had continuous NHMRC funding since 2004.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Royal Melbourne Institute 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

Supervises 6 PhD students and 1 Master of Public Health student

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, Dr Sarity Dodson.

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 CaLD 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, Dr Helen Mavoa, Dr Sarity Dodson.

Louise Sparkes

Drawing of the perspectives of individuals to design health literacy interventions

Louise’s project will focus on interventions to enhance health literacy in rural settings. Phase one of her project involves a systematic review of interventions to enhance health literacy, phase two will profile the health literacy of a rural site/s within the Ophelia study. The final phase will involve working with clinicians and managers to design, implement and evaluate an intervention to enhance health literacy in rural settings.

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

Rebecca Jessup

Using health literacy to understand and improve hospital quality and safety

Dr Sangrimitra Pati (located in India)

Optimising health literacy interventions for improved self-management in people with multiple chronic conditions (multimorbidity) in primary care settings 

Expertise categories

Expertise summary

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 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

The Health Report  Pod cast

The basics on health literacy You-tube video

Innovative project aims to improve health literacy - Crikey 


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

Chief Investigator: Ophelia (OPtimising HEalth LIterAcy)

"The grounded development of a health literacy response framework for Victoria"


"The development and validation of the Health Literacy Questionnaire"


NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship

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

Research groups

Public Health Innovation, Deakin University

Health Literacy Questionnaire on LinkedIn

Research page



Koay K, Schofield P, Gough K, Buchbinder R, Rischin D, Ball D2, Corry J, Osborne RH, Jefford M. Suboptimal health literacy in patients with lung cancer or head and neck cancer. 2013 Supportive Care in Cancer (accepted 4th March 2013) IF 2.6
[125] Sadie Wickwar, Katrin Buerkle, Hayley McBain, Sabina Ciciriello, Richard H Osborne, Lucy Wedderburn, Stanton P Newman. Adaptation of the methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis knowledge questionnaire (MiRAK) for use with parents of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: A qualitative study. Pediatric Rheumatology (provisionally accepted 28 April 2013).
[126] 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.
[127] Nolte S, Elsworth GR, Osborne RH. Absence of social desirability bias in the evaluation of chronic disease self-management interventions. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2013.11(1):114.
[128] Jonathan Epstein, Richard Osborne, Gerald Elsworth, Dorcas Beaton, Francis Guillemin. Cross-cultural adaptation of the heiQ questionnaire: experimental study showed expert committee, not back-translation, added value.  Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (accepted July 20 2013).

Page custodian: External Relations Group
Last updated: