Health literacy in patients with chronic hepatitis B attending a tertiary hospital in Melbourne: a questionnaire based survey

Tanya F M Dahl, Benjamin C Cowie, Beverley-Ann Biggs, Karin Sharona Leder, Jennifer H MacLachlan, Caroline Marshall

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract Background: Current estimates suggest over 218,000 individuals in Australia are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus. The majority of these people are migrants and refugees born in hepatitis B endemic countries, where attitudes towards health, levels of education, and English proficiency can be a barrier to accessing the Australian health care system, and best managing chronic hepatitis B. This study aimed to assess the knowledge of transmission and consequences of chronic hepatitis B among these patients. Method: A prospective study was conducted between May and August 2012. Patients with chronic hepatitis B were recruited from three Royal Melbourne Hospital outpatient clinics. Two questionnaires were administered. Questionnaire 1, completed during observation of a prospective participants? consultation, documented information given to the patient by their clinician. After the consultation, Questionnaire 2 was administered to assess patient demographics, and overall knowledge of the effect, transmission and treatment of hepatitis B. Results: 55 participants were recruited. 93 of them were born overseas, 17 used an interpreter, and the average time since diagnosis was 9.7 years. Results from Questionnaire 1 showed that the clinician rarely discussed many concepts. Questionnaire 2 exposed considerable gaps in hepatitis B knowledge. Few participants reported a risk of cirrhosis (11 ) or liver cancer (18 ). There was a high awareness of transmission routes, with 89 correctly identifying sexual transmission, 93 infected blood, and 85 perinatal transmission. However, 25 of participants believed hepatitis B could be spread by sharing food, and over 50 by kissing and via mosquitoes. A knowledge score out of 12 was assessed for each participant. The average score was 7.5. Multivariate analysis found higher knowledge scores among those with a family member also diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B and those routinely seeing the same clinician (p = 0.009 and p = 0.002, respectively). Conclusion: This is the largest Australian study assessing knowledge and understanding of the effect, transmission, and treatment of hepatitis B among chronically infected individuals. The findings highlight the knowledge gaps and misconceptions held by these patients, and the need to expand education and support initiatives
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number537
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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