The roundtable forms part of the Serious and Continuing Illness Policy and Practice Study (SCIPPS) run by the Menzies Centre for Health Policy – a collaboration between ANU and the University of Sydney. It will bring together leading experts from the health, welfare, academic and government sectors from around Australia to examine how health literacy and partnerships can help deal with ongoing illness in our communities.
Roundtable convenor Mr Robert Wells, Director of the Australian Primary Healthcare Research Institute at ANU, said that while 40 per cent of Australians have adequate levels of health literacy, around 80 per cent of the population will experience serious or chronic illnesses in their lifetime.
“Identifying symptoms of illness and relating them to any single illness can be tricky and requires an effective level of personal health literacy. The SCIPPS study found that inadequate health literacy was a major barrier to effective self-management of chronic illness.
“The study, in common with other studies, found that many older Australians have several chronic illnesses at the same time. Some participants had up to eight chronic illnesses and about half of the Australians with chronic illnesses have five or more at the same time.
“The incidence of chronic illness increases with age and the ageing Australian population will therefore make increasing economic demands on the health system unless collaborations can be identified with community and non-government organisations.”
Mr Wells said that the roundtable will identify where and how partnerships can be developed which will improve the health of people with chronic illnesses as well as ease the pressures on the health care system.
“The advent of Medicare Locals and Local Health Networks across Australia provide a timely opportunity for the development of collaborations between the health care system and the community.
“Collaborations can be forged to alleviate the pressures on the health care system, and to provide the essential and ongoing services that are required by people with chronic illness. Partnerships can assist with not only the practical response to transport and other needs, but also the needs for health literacy and helping people to make effective health choices,” he said.
Mr Wells and other roundtable participants are available for interview before 10:00 am, and between 11.15-11.30am and 12.30-1.30pm today.
For media assistance: James Giggacher, ANU Media – 02 6125 7988 or 0416 249 241