Over the last six years, a team at Deakin University Population Health Strategic Research Centre has become recognised as world experts in understanding how to measure different aspects of health literacy.
This reputation was further enhanced in August, 2013 when Ophelia Victoria was launched.
Ophelia Victoria is a three-year collaboration between Deakin University, the Victorian Department of Health and Monash University.
The partnership is expected to lead to a suite of new patient-centred interventions for people living with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
Dr Alison Beauchamp joined the Deakin team in 2013 as Ophelia Victoria Project Manager. Her initial participation in the Ophelia Victoria project was prompted by ongoing interests in how people with chronic illnesses interpret advice from medical expertise and also how they navigate through the health care system.
“Health literacy is not just about how we read, understand and access health information, it’s also about we navigate through an increasingly complex health system,” says Dr Beauchamp.
Dr Beauchamp has a background in cardiac care and community nursing and has worked in Melbourne, North Queensland and the UK. Her previous research studies have used epidemiological methods to examine the relationship between socioeconomic status and cardiovascular disease.
The new project will work in collaboration with eight organisations across the State to measure and improve health literacy. The findings will then inform development of new interventions which make meaningful improvements within health systems.
With her colleagues Dr Beauchamp has recently been visiting each Ophelia project site to assist and train organisations to use the new health survey with their clients.
“Each site is different and serves different groups of people living with chronic illness,” she said.
“The Ophelia approach is to support participating organisations as much as we can and also, together, to co-create new innovations which improve health literacy.
Dr Beauchamp also expects there to be several opportunities for local Deakin students to assist and contribute to the Ophelia Victoria project.
The research team is currently seeking expressions of interest from students to work on the Ophelia Victoria project.
Those who have interests and experience in health services research, chronic illness, intervention development, survey interviewing and the writing of literature reviews are especially sought.