People with asthma have the lowest overall health literacy according to a first of its kind national health survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The survey uses a survey tool develop by Swinburne’s Distinguish Professor of Health Sciences Richard Osborne.
Alongside people with mental health and behaviour problems; so those with asthma indicate they struggle more with managing their health and engaging with healthcare providers than those with other long-term health conditions. Just 12.3% of those with asthma said they were able to actively manage their own health, and only 5.4% felt understood and supported by healthcare providers.

Larger gaps for people

This data calls for consideration of how complex different diseases are for people in the community. It seems that while the information needs of people with cancer, diabetes and heart disease are high; so there are larger gaps for people with chronic lung conditions,” says Professor Osborne.

Findings from this survey point out that the average health literacy of people with both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/asthma is at the lower end for each of the nine health literacy indicators when compare with the general population. The data points out that for many people they just can’t find the information they need.

The findings come from the comprehensive National Health Survey: Health Literacy, 2018; which quizzes Australians on their health literacy. ABS Director of Health, Louise Gates, says that the Health Literacy Survey summarises how Australians find, understand and use health information; also how they interact with doctors and other healthcare providers.
The survey was develop by a team in Victoria led by Professor Richard Osborne. It is the first time that comprehensive national data in this area has publish anywhere in the world,” says Ms Gates. The survey assesses a broad range of health literacy characteristics and can use to improve health services; so including the understanding of people’s experiences when trying to get help from health professionals.

Managing their health

Overall, 25% of people strongly agree that they felt socially support in managing their health. However, people with three or more long-term health conditions were less likely to strongly agree (17%); when compare with people who didn’t report a long-term health condition (29%),” Ms Gates says.
In addition, though just over a quarter (26%) of people find it always easy to navigate the healthcare system; so this was lower for people who report very high levels of psychological distress (17%); so compare with people who report low psychological distress levels (31%). Professor Osborne says that they has is please by the strong international interest the survey has received.
Once again Australia has set new and higher standards in biomedical; also social research that will be follow by other countries. I am proud and honour to have led this health literacy work that promises to directly impact on the quality of care and health equity in Australia.