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

Use of specific techniques can improve health outcomes among patients with low health literacy. For example, using ‘teach back’ to verify understanding has been shown to improve diabetic control.

Express use of other techniques such as ‘ask-me-3’, or motivational interviewing and goal setting are reported to be effective at improving communication.

Some common sense approaches can be also be effective, including:

  • using plain language that’s free of medical jargon
  • sitting face-to-face with the patient
  • using simple diagrams or pictograms 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
  • frankly asking patients whether they understand their treatment plan, the purpose of any medications and the dosing of those medications.

The full report is here.

Helpful resources for patients

Six videos from the Better Health Channel to help in understanding 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..


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Contact Information

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For General Practice support, please call 1300 331 981 (option 2) or email

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