Health Literacy

We all need the ability to find, understand and use information for health. Health professionals are in a key position to help.

Around one in six Australians might not be able to access, understand, evaluate and communicate health information in a way that helps them to maintain and improve their own health.


Resources for health professionals

There are some easy things you can do to improve health outcomes among patients with low health literacy. For example, using ‘teach back’ to confirm the patient understood you has been shown to improve diabetic control.

Other techniques such as ‘ask-me-3’, or motivational interviewing and goal setting will help your communication. 

Some simple  approaches can be effective, including:

  • using plain language that’s free of medical jargon
  • sitting face-to-face with the patient
  • using simple diagrams or pictures to illustrate explanations
  • using educational materials geared to individuals with low health literacy.
  • repeating directions and recommendations, just to be sure they are being heard
  • asking patients whether they understand their treatment plan, the purpose of any medications and the dosing of those medications.

Helpful resources for patients

Try and give patients trusted resources from peak bodies or the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Department of Health. 

  • Six videos from the Better Health Channel that help people understand the health system including services, treatment, care and education for everyone in Victoria.
  • Refer a patient with Type II diabetes to a self-management course.
  • Translation Services - Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National
  • My Health Visit Today
    • My Health Visit Today is a notepad to help patients understand and remember what has been discussed with their doctor to improve their health literacy. Request free copies from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
  • Living well @ every age
    • Information for community members across the lifespan. Request free copies from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Useful Websites


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For General Practice support, please call 1300 331 981 (option 2) or email providersupport@semphn.org.au

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