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Distinguished Professor Richard Osborne

NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Distinguished Professor in Health Scienc


Richard Osborne is Distinguished Professor of Health Sciences and Director, Centre for Global Health and Equity. He holds a prestigious NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship (2019-23), is an adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO), and is a Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher (2021 and 2018 top 1% most influential researcher globally). He holds Honorary Professor positions at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers and has been cited over 50,000 times. He has been awarded over $30m in competitive funding.

Professor Osborne and his team have an exceptional track record in building new methods and tools that are implemented globally to serve Public Health, Healthcare, Digital Health and Policy sectors. These outputs include measurement tools (e.g., HLQ, eHLQ, heiQ, MAPT, CHAT) that enable improvements in health and community services to reduce health inequalities. He led the development of the Ophelia (Optimising Health Literacy and Access) process which is applied in many parts of the world, including within WHO National Health Literacy Development Projects (NHLDPs), and the European Commission Joint Action on Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes (Jacardi) which include a Health Literacy Work Package with 15 countries and 25 projects.

He developed the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) which is 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. He also developed the Influenza Intensity and Impact Questionnaire (FluiiQ; which is used in global vaccine and antiviral trials for influenza and influenza-like illnesses, including COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

He has completed a wide range of assignments for the WHO. He was the health literacy consultant for the Independent High-Level Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases-WG1 (Health Literacy). He is the lead author of the report WHO Health Literacy Development for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases which has been classified as a Global Public Health Good.


  • Established the first WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Literacy (at Deakin University).
  • Developed, implemented and scaled public waiting list reform for hip & knee replacement surgery in Victoria.
  • Led the development of the NSW Mental Health Commission's state-wide Mental Health Literacy Development Initiative.
  • High-impact health literacy projects in cancer screening, social and public housing, digital health, OneHealth in the Mekong, and others.
  • Commissioned by WHO to deliver health literacy capacity building in Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. 

He has mentored numerous PhD scholars to completion and welcomes applications from scholars and fellows seeking to become public health leaders. Current PhD projects include health literacy development projects in: Cambodian villages, prisons, refugees, and communities of practice. New opportunities will soon be announced for rural health, psychometrics, Ophelia implementation and others.

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.
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Recent research grants awarded

  • 2023: Bentleigh Bayside Community Health project *; Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund (LMCF)
  • 2023: Joint Action on Diabetes and Heart Disease, Work Package 6 Health Literacy *; EU4Health programme
  • 2022: Development of Digital Health Literacy Quality Improvement Tool *; Mental Health Commission of NSW
  • 2022: Identifying and responding to the health literacy needs of people living with MND/ALS – a coordinated national approach *; Monash University
  • 2022: Tasmanian Health Literacy Data Analysis *; Tasmanian Department of Health Fund Scheme
  • 2021: Community Health workers Extending Care in the Community *; NHMRC Partnership Project
  • 2021: COVID-19 HRAR Evaluation and Program Development *; Connect Health and Community Fund Scheme
  • 2021: ‘To Support GCM/NCD’ *; World Health Organisation
  • 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