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Estimating the Economic Burden of Low Health Literacy in the Blacktown Community in Sydney, Australia: A Population-Based Study

Wadad Tannous (), Moin Uddin Ahmed, James Rufus John, Graham Reece and Golo Ahlenstiel
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James Rufus John: Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Campbelltown, NSW 2560, Australia
Graham Reece: Intensive Care Unit, Blacktown Hospital, Blacktown, NSW 2148, Australia
Golo Ahlenstiel: School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia

IJERPH, 2021, vol. 18, issue 5, 1-23

Abstract: Evidence shows that inadequate or low health literacy (LHL) levels are significantly associated with economic ramifications at the individual, employer, and health care system levels. Therefore, this study aims to estimate the economic burden of LHL among a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community in Blacktown: a local government area (LGA) in Sydney, Australia. This study is a secondary analysis of cross-sectional data from publicly available datasets, including 2011 and 2016 census data and National Health Survey (NHS) data (2017–2018) from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and figures on Disease Expenditure in Australia for 2015–2016 provided by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). This study found that 20% of Blacktown residents reported low levels of active engagement with health care providers (Domain 6 of the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ)), with 14% reporting a limited understanding of the health information required to take action towards improving health or making health care decisions (Domain 9 of the HLQ). The overall extra/delta cost (direct and indirect health care costs) associated with LHL in the Blacktown LGA was estimated to be between $11,785,528 and $15,432,239 in 2020. This is projected to increase to between $18,922,844 and $24,191,911 in 2030. Additionally, the extra disability-adjusted life year (DALY) value in 2020, for all chronic diseases and age-groups—comprising the extra costs incurred due to years of life lost (YLL) and years lived with disability (YLD)—was estimated at $414,231,335. The findings of our study may enable policymakers to have a deeper understanding of the economic burden of LHL in terms of its impact on the health care system and the production economy.

Keywords: low health literacy; economic burden; cost; Australia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I I1 I3 Q Q5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Handle: RePEc:gam:jijerp:v:18:y:2021:i:5:p:2303-:d:506448