Enhancing Health Literacy among resettled refugees: A feasibility study among people of African ethnicity in Newcastle, Australia


  • Mitchell Budden 4th year BPharm(Hons) - University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  • Taylah Oehme 4th year BPharm(Hons) - University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  • Briony Debeljak 4th year BPharm(Hons) - University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  • Therése Kairuz Associate Professor, School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia


pharmacy research, refugees, pharmacy practice, student-led journal , health literacy


Background: There is a significant difference in the health outcomes between refugee population groups and the general population in Australia, possibly due to low levels of English health literacy. This study evaluated a limited text leaflet designed to improve understanding about the Australian healthcare system for refugees from Africa.

Aim: To develop a resource tool for pharmacy staff that could be utilized in the community pharmacy setting to improve the health literacy of resettled African refugees.

Method: For the leaflet, information was gathered from Medicare and Centrelink websites, digital images of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescriptions were produced, and pictograms for common health conditions were selected. An interview guide was designed and interviews with participants of African ethnicity were conducted online. Qualitative methods were used to elicit and analyse feedback.

Results: Feedback regarding the leaflet was positive, including choice of images and layout, and the interview guide was a suitable tool for evaluation. Suggestions for improvement included optimization of background colour for readability, the addition of graphical images to represent symptoms, and ensuring consistency in the size of images and font.

Discussion: The consumer-friendly information leaflet could be used as a template for health literacy resources in community pharmacies. Due to the small sample size, a pilot study should be conducted among resettled refugees from various ethnic groups to confirm the suitability of the leaflet as a resource. The suitability could be measured via the success pharmacists’ experience in facilitating the process of conveying information about the Australian health system.

Conclusion: The leaflet was acceptable to people of African ethnicity and demonstrated potential as a resource for enhancing understanding about the Australian health system. It could form a template as a limited text, pictorial health literacy resource.


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