Fitting Health Care to People: Understanding and Adapting to the Epidemiology and Health Literacy of People Affected by Viral Hepatitis from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Migrant Backgrounds

J Immigr Minor Health. 2022 Oct;24(5):1196-1205. doi: 10.1007/s10903-021-01305-5. Epub 2021 Nov 17.


This study explored the epidemiology and health literacy of people affected by viral hepatitis (VH) from migrant culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds attending a community-based general practitioner and specialty hepatology shared-care (HEPREACH) clinic in Brisbane, Australia. Patient-reported data on health literacy and clinical information from adult patients (n = 66) of CALD background recruited from the liver clinic were analyzed. Health literacy was assessed using a 5-question, 12-point scale. Variance weighted multiple linear regression was used to identify factors associated with knowledge about VH. About three-quarters of patients (74.2%) were diagnosed with hepatitis B. The median knowledge score was 7.8 (interquartile range [IQR] 6‒9). One in five patients did not understand the infective nature of VH, 30.3% did not understand mother-to-child transmission risk, and 30-40% of patients thought activities such as kissing, sharing food or mosquito bites could spread VH. Only 6% of patients understood the risk of liver cancer and the need for regular screening. Higher educational level (secondary, β = 4.8, p < 0.0001 or tertiary, β = 8.1, p < 0.0001 vs. primary) was associated with better knowledge, and transition through a refugee camp (vs. not, β = - 1.2, p = 0.028) and country of diagnosis (overseas vs. Australia, β = - 1.9, p = 0.016) were associated with poorer knowledge. Country of origin, refugee status and opportunities for tertiary education impact patients' understanding of VH. Ensuring delivery of culturally appropriate care and education is critical to improve knowledge, reduce misconceptions to improve care and outcomes for VH in CALD migrant communities.

Keywords: Australia; Culturally and linguistically diverse; Health literacy; Migration; Viral hepatitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Health Literacy*
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Transients and Migrants*