Centre for Global Health and Equity

Our Alumni Stories 

Melanie Hawkins

Asking questions of questionnaires

PhD candidate Melanie Hawkins is using our Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) to investigate validation practice for patient-reported outcome measures in health. Her research looks at how to apply theory to developing and testing health questionnaires.

She has found that a strong theoretical framework is important. It helps questionnaire developers and users to define the types of evidence they need. This allows them to work out if questionnaire data are valid for their purpose.

Fields like psychology and education rely on theoretical frameworks to test their data. But Melanie found that these frameworks are rarely used in health. Her research focuses on developing self-report questionnaires for health literacy, using the HLQ as a model.

Through her candidature, Melanie has been able to build international research partnerships, and recently facilitated a workshop in Dublin, Ireland as part of the 2018 conference for the International Society for Quality of Life Research.


Rhonda Garad

Measuring migrant's healthcare barriers

Migrants come to Australia as healthy or healthier than those born in the country. However, many quickly experience declining health. Rhonda Garad found this hard to understand when Australia has one of the world’s best healthcare systems.

She focused her PhD on the role that migrants’ health literacy skills played in this scenario. Rhonda tested 240 Somali, Indian and Chinese migrants, using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) as her measurement tool. She completed interviews on their experiences within the health system. She then compared the migrants’ data with those of 833 people who were born in Australia. She looked at each group’s health literacy strengths and limitations.

Her thesis found that many migrants already have health literacy strengths. This presents a missed opportunity for health services to better support and empower migrants by aligning traditional and contemporary health approaches.


Christina Cheng

Researching online health itinerary

Christina Cheng is interested in how people access and use digital health information and services. Her PhD aims to provide a pathway to develop interventions that respond to patients’ eHealth literacy needs.

Her research uses the eHealth Literacy Questionnaire and the Ophelia (OPtimising HEalth LIteracy and Access) process, working with 3 partner organisations. Together, they’ve come up with a total of 107 intervention ideas to ensure that clients have equal access to, and can all use, health information and services. The key ideas are now serving as the strategic blueprint for the organisations.