Risks associated with low functional health literacy in an Australian population

Robert A Bush, Frances M Boyle and Remo Ostini
Med J Aust 2010; 192 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03597.x
Published online: 19 April 2010

To the Editor: A recent editorial about health literacy and a research article on the prevalence of low health literacy in a South Australian population sample2 highlight the potential negative impact of low health literacy on treatment outcomes. Adams and colleagues also suggest a need to assess health literacy in clinical practice.2 Although calls for the introduction of screening to identify patients with low health literacy appear frequently in such articles, we urge caution in taking such a step at this time, because of a lack of sound evidence to support such a recommendation.

  • Robert A Bush
  • Frances M Boyle
  • Remo Ostini

  • University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.



This letter is based on results of our systematic review of health literacy in relation to the Australian primary health care system. The review was funded by the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute and is due to be published on their website ( in March 2010.


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