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Distinguished Professor Richard Osborne



Richard Osborne is Distinguished Professor of Health Sciences and IS Director of the Centre for Global Health and Equity. He holds a prestigious NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship (2019-23), is an adviser to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher (2018 top 1% most influential researcher globally in the cross-field category). He holds Honorary Professor positions at Copenhagen University, Denmark, and Thammasat University, Thailand. He has published over 260 peer-reviewed papers, has been cited over 42,000 times and has an h-index of 57.

Professor Osborne and his team have an exceptional track record in building new methods and tools that are implemented globally and are useful for Public Health, Healthcare, Digital Health, Mental Health and Policy sectors. These practical research outputs include measurement tools (e.g., HLQ, eHLQ, heiQ, MAPT, CHAT, OrgHLR) that enable improvements in health and community services to reduce health inequalities. A key research output is the Ophelia (Optimising Health Literacy and Access) process applied in many parts of the world, including within WHO National Health Literacy Demonstration Projects (WHO NHLDPs).

He developed the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) which has become one of the most widely used health literacy tools in the world. It is being applied in government-sponsored National Health Surveys, clinical trials, multi-national evaluations, and numerous quality improvement initiatives. This questionnaire is having a global impact; among the 12,500 health literacy papers published in the past 10 years, it is the 2nd most highly sighted original research paper (400 cites) and over 500 research projects are using it across 60+ countries.

He developed and led Swinburne's global #beatCOVID19now app/web platform, focused on tracking, managing and enabling community recovery from COVID-19. This platform uses the Influenza Intensity and Impact Questionnaire (FluiiQ; that he developed. It is translated to >50 languages and is used in global vaccine and antiviral trials for influenza and influenza-like illnesses, including COVID-19.

He has completed a wide range of assignments and contracts for the WHO, including WHO's Global Coordinating Mechanism for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases. He was the health literacy consultant for the Independent High-Level Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases - WG1 (Health Literacy). For WHO, he has delivered health literacy capacity in Russia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Egypt, Sudan, Portugal and Brunei. He developed the concept of WHO National Health Literacy Demonstration Projects and an NHLDP global community of practice which is being implemented across regions.

He leads a consortium to develop the NSW Mental Health Commission's state-wide Mental Health Literacy Responsiveness training and education program. The consortium includes UNSW and The University of Newcastle. A suite of educational and training tools are being implemented across NSW to improve mental health literacy responsiveness. 

Other activities:

  • Established the first WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Literacy (at Deakin University).
  • Development, implementation and embedding of the public waiting list reform for hip & knee replacement surgery across Victoria.
  • Built the Health Education Impact Questionnaire (heiQ), a measure of chronic disease self-management programs used globally.
He has supervised numerous PhD scholars to completion and receives applications from scholars and fellows seeking to become public health leaders.

Research interests

Health Promotion; Public and Environmental Health; Biostatistics; Health research design

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

The Epidemiology of Health Literacy in Australia: Applications welcome: The HLQ (Health Literacy Questionnaire) has been applied in the ABS National Health Survey. This PhD involves answering a wide range of research questions related to the epidemiology of diverse groups and the relationships between health literacy and inequality.


Available to supervise honours students.

Fields of Research

  • Health Services And Systems - 420300
  • Public Health - 420600


Also published as: Osborne, Richard; Osborne, R.; Osborne, R. H.; Osborne, Richard H.
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2021: 'To Support GCM/NCD' *; World Health Organisation
  • 2020: Community Health workers Extending Care in the Community *; NHMRC Partnership Project
  • 2020: Consumer Education and Awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease *; Crohn's & Colitis Australia
  • 2020: WHO GCM/NCD Working Group on health education and health literacy *; World Health Organisation
  • 2019: Developing and testing processes and tools to generate connected and live health security knowledge in Mekong Communities *; Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Fund Scheme
  • 2019: Evaluation of the Action for Healthier Families (AHF) Toolkit implementation in three demonstration sites in Vanuatu *; World Health Organisation
  • 2019: Evaluation of the AHF toolkit implementation in three Vanuatu Demonstration Sites *; World Health Organisation
  • 2019: How to increase health literacy about NCDs and their risk factors to support the identification of bold recommendations by the WHO Independent High-level Commission on NCDs *; World Health Organisation
  • 2019: Irish Heart Foundation - 'WHO IHF National Health Literacy Demonstration Project' *; Irish Heart Foundation
  • 2019: Literacy Demonstration Projects on NCDs *; World Health Organisation
  • 2019: Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROM) Health Literacy for Gippsland Region Integrated Cancer Services *; Department of Health and Human Services Fund Scheme
  • 2019: Production, Delivery, and Evaluation of a Health Literacy Approach and Materials (RFP) *; Mental Health Commission of NSW
  • 2019: Using health literacy to make health systems more inclusive and effective *; NHMRC Research Fellowship
  • 2019: Working paper for how to increase health literacy about NCDs and their risk factors *; World Health Organisation
  • 2019: Workshop on Health Literacy Country Projects, Moscow, Russian Federation *; World Health Organisation

* Chief Investigator