Strengthening health literacy among Indigenous people living with cardiovascular disease, their families, and health care providers

Project Details

International evidence indicates that health literacy is an underlying health issue across populations. In Indigenous health contexts, strengthening organisational level health literacy may be one way to improve health outcomes for patients. As part of this project a team of international researchers from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia and Canada, developed, implemented and evaluated a community-based intervention that involved Indigenous health workers delivering one-on-one sessions with patients. These sessions were guided by a commuter App and booklet purposefully designed with communities to improve health literacy around cardiovascular disease medications. Multisite evaluation of this project revealed that community-based health literacy interventions that operate at the patient-health practitioner interface greatly improve health literacy and have potential to lead to measurable health gains.

In Australia this project was a partnership between the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.


Professor Margaret Kelaher

Joanne Luke (Victorian Aboriginal Health Service)


National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) - International Collaborative Indigenous Health Research Partnership grant

Research Publications


Lambert M, Luke J, Downey b, Crengle S, Kelaher M, Reid S, Smylie J. 2015 Health Literacy: Health professionals’ understandings and their perceptions of barriers that Indigenous patients encounter BMC Health Services Research 14:614

Cardiovascular disease medication health literacy among Indigenous peoples: design and protocol of an intervention trial in Indigenous primary care services. BMC Public Health 14:714-721


Crengle S, Luke J, Lambert M, Smylie J, Reid S, Harre Hindmarsh J, Kelaher M. 2018 Effect of a health literacy intervention trial on knowledge about cardiovascular medications among Indigenous peoples in Australia, Canada and New Zealand BMJ Open 8; e018569

Smylie J, O’Brien K, Xavier CG, Anderson M, McKnight C, Downey B, Kelaher M, De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre. 2018 Primary care intervention to address cardiovascular disease medication health literacy among Indigenous peoples: Canadian results of a pre-post design study Canadian Journal of Public Health 109(1) 117-127

Research Group

School Research Themes

Disparities, disadvantage and effective health care

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Centre for Health Policy

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.