Resources and Background
Health literacy in Australia
The 2006 Australian Bureau of Statistics Health Literacy Survey found:
- 63% of Tasmanians have inadequate health literacy the highest level of all states and territories
- inadequate health literacy increases with age – 55 to 59 years (66%), 60 to 64 years (71%) and 65 to 74 years (83%)
- inadequate health literacy is higher in cultural and linguistic diverse communities – first language other than English (74%), first language English (56%)
- inadequate health literacy increases with relative socio economic disadvantage – least disadvantage (45%), next least disadvantaged (54%), middle quintile (59%), second most disadvantaged (65%) and most disadvantaged (74%)
- inadequate health literacy is higher in low income households with 79% in the lowest quintile in comparison to 37% in the highest quintile
- inadequate health literacy decreases with the number of years of formal education – 10 years or less (83%), 11 to 15 years (55%), 16 to 20 years (32%) and 21 years and over (28%). However, higher qualifications do not necessarily mean better health literacy, with inadequate health literacy higher in postgraduate degrees recipients (27%) compared to graduate diploma/certificate recipients (23%).
Literacy and numeracy resources
The Tasmanian Government has a program to help people with general literacy and numeracy skills see 26TEN
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care resources
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released new health literacy resources including:
- Health literacy Infographics
- Health Literacy – a summary for executives and managers
- Health Literacy – a summary for consumers
- Health Literacy – a summary for clinicians
Organisational health literacy audit tool and publications from Enliven
The Enliven Organisational Health Literacy Self-assessment Resources provides a tool to enable full or selected assessment of 10 organisational health literacy attributes. The resource was commissioned by Enliven and developed by the School of Primary Health Care, Monash University.
Enliven has also published two documents looking at the specific needs of vulnerable groups:
- Health Literacy & Health Communication Needs of People with Developmental Disabilities CASE STUDY 2013
- Health literacy and vulnerable groups: What works?
- Health Literacy Resources - provided by Dr Nikos Thomacos, Monash University (provided by Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership, Victoria)
- Health Issues Centre
- The Health Literacy Place (Scotland)
- Canadian Public Health Association
- Workbase (New Zealand)
- Harvard School of Public Health
- New Zealand Ministry of Health
Importance of improving health literacy
The importance of improving health literacy is widely recognised within the health sector as a priority for action. The following strategic documents include making health literacy a key issue:
- Public Health Services has developed the Bridging the Communication Gap: a Communication and Health Literacy Action Plan 1 July 2015 - 30 June 2017. This document outlines principles and strategies to address agreed priorities in health literacy.
- The Tasmanian Lead Clinicians Group in the Tasmania's Health Planning Framework identified the need to have a strong emphasis on health literacy and the urgent need to improve Tasmanians health literacy to help them make informed and appropriate choices about their health and healthcare.
- The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services' Strategic Framework for Health Workforce 2013 – 2018 recognises the increasing need for health services to proactively focus on health literacy.
- The Commission on Delivery of Health Services In Tasmania's Report to the Australian Government and Tasmanian Government Health Ministers – April 2014 notes the significance of improving community health literacy and recommends the development of a statewide community engagement and capacity building strategy to improve health literacy.
- The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has identified health literacy as a priority and has included it as a key action area in the Australian Safety and Quality Framework for Health Care; implicit in nine of the 10 National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards; and healthcare organisations become health literate organisations as a core outcome of the Australian Safety and Quality Goals for Health Care (Goal 3 Partnering with Consumers).
- On 25 August 2014, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care released a National Statement on Health Literacy and the Health literacy: Taking action for Safety and Quality following endorsement of Australian Health Ministers as the national approach in addressing health literacy.
Links to health and human services department operational frameworks
Building a Health Literate Tasmania
For more information about health literacy in health and human services email firstname.lastname@example.org