Health literacy and the HLQ

Health Literacy is defined as the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services, in order to make appropriate health decisions. Health literacy is becoming increasingly acknowledged as a contributor to health status in developed and developing nations (Nutbeam 2000; Andrus and Roth 2002; Baker 2006; WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health 2007; Kickbusch and Maag 2008; Nutbeam 2008).

The Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) is a recently developed measure of health literacy that comprehensively captures the broad concept of health literacy. Researchers Osborne, Batterham et al. (2013) from Deakin University developed the HLQ over six years in consultation with patients and practitioners. It comprises nine separate domains, and provides a detailed profile of the health literacy challenges a person might experience.

The nine domains of the HLQ include:

  1. Feeling understood and supported by healthcare providers,
  2. Having sufficient information to manage my health,
  3. Actively managing my health,
  4. Social support for health,
  5. Appraisal of health information,
  6. Ability to actively engagement with healthcare providers,
  7. Navigating the healthcare system,
  8. Ability to find good health information,
  9. Understanding health information well enough to know what to do.

The HLQ has undergone extensive validation testing in Australia and internationally. The initial validation study (Osborne et al., 2013), was conducted with over 1,000 diverse health consumers accessing health services in a number of settings including a regional hospital, private specialist clinic, a home and community care service and an emergency department of large teaching hospital in Australia.In 2014 university students in a variety of health professional training programmes in seven universities in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong and the United Kingdom completed the HLQ. This study was led out of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and is currently being written up.


The HLQ has been translated into the following languages:

  • Afrikaans
  • Chinese
  • Czech (in development)
  • Danish (in development)
  • Dutch (in development)
  • German (in development)
  • Greek
  • Hindi (in development)
  • Italian
  • Norwegian (in development)
  • Slovakian (in development)
  • Somali (in development)
  • Spanish (in development)
  • Vietnamese

For further information please,

Visit the Deakin HLQ website:

Read the following articles:

Jordan, J. E., Buchbinder, R., & Osborne, R. H. (2010). Conceptualising health literacy from the patient perspective. Patient education and counseling, 79(1), 36-42. Read pdf

Jordan, J. E., Osborne, R. H., & Buchbinder, R. (2011). Critical appraisal of health literacy indices revealed variable underlying constructs, narrow content and psychometric weaknesses. Journal of clinical epidemiology, 64(4), 366-379. Read pdf  

Osborne, R. H., Batterham, R. W., Elsworth, G. R., Hawkins, M., & Buchbinder, R. (2013). The grounded psychometric development and initial validation of the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ). BMC public health, 13(1), 658. Read pdf