Improving health literacy in refugee populations

Elisha Riggs, Jane Yelland, Philippa Duell-Piening and Stephanie J Brown
Med J Aust 2016; 204 (1): 9-10. || doi: 10.5694/mja15.01112

We must ensure that people of refugee background have the confidence, support and resources to manage their health

Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual can obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and health services to make appropriate decisions about their health.1 Low health literacy is inextricably linked to poor health outcomes. Individuals with limited health literacy have higher rates of illness and more hospitalisations.2 Acquiring good health is a process that requires access to health care and health knowledge to inform positive health behaviour coupled with ongoing access to necessary resources.

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  • Elisha Riggs1
  • Jane Yelland1
  • Philippa Duell-Piening2
  • Stephanie J Brown1

  • 1 Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, Melbourne, VIC



We thank our collaborators Josef Szwarc and Sue Casey for their valuable contributions to this article. Jane Yelland is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship and Stephanie Brown is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (2012–2015). We acknowledge the support of the Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Support Program.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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