Health Literacy

Week of 17/04 - convened by Faye Liu and Elizabeth Low

Vaccines give you autism. Paleo diets are the keys to eternal youth. Multi-vitamin supplements can prevent cancer. The health-educated have often learned to debunk these ‘myths’, but what about those who cannot? The ‘Health Literacy and Education’ module aims to explore how health-literate Australians are on a population scale and to educate the health educated on how to educate the uneducated. We will explore the the barriers to effective health education and communication, what are the sources and facilitators of misinformation, and the impact of false health myths on society. We will also discuss how best to improve Australian health literacy, to advance and abet effective healthcare.

Our Speakers

Thomas Shafee is a research fellow in the Biochemistry department at the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science. There, he studies on the ancient evolution of antimicrobial defensin proteins, and how they might be adapted for biotechnological uses by protein engineering.

In addition to his research work, he also has a keen interest in bringing Wikipedia content up to academic standards by bridging the gap between academics and Wikipedians. This is firstly through directly editing the encyclopedia (articles he has written of overhauled have >30 million views per annum). Additionally, he is part of a new wave of collaboration between academic publishers and Wikipedia as a Front Section Editor for PLOS Genetics and an Editorial Board member for WikiJournal of Medicine.

He's also published a rather interesting article in the Conversation about how Wikipedia has become the world's "Doctor Google", and doctors and researchers can make it better - you can read it here!