University of Tasmania
132423 - OPHELIA CVD - A pilot study of optimising health literacy in hard to reach men for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease 2016-2018.pdf (963.28 kB)

OPHELIA CVD: A pilot study of optimising health literacy in ‘hard to reach’ men for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. (2016-2018)

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The aim of this project was to investigate the impact of the Optimising HEalth LIterAcy (OPHELIA) approach on a population of ‘hard to reach’ men from Launceston’s northern suburbs who are at increased risk of cardio-vascular disease (CVD). It was hoped that the intervention would enable positive lifestyle changes in the study population, through the community organisations and general practices which care for them and deliver CVD-prevention messages or activities.

The study was based on the hypotheses that the OPHELIA approach would lead to improvements in health literacy measures in patients at risk of CVD who were disadvantaged by poorer access to health services and lower socio-economic status; and that the OPHELIA approach to health literacy would also produce targeted interventions which would have a positive effect on lifestyle behaviours, the risk of CVD, use of health services for primary prevention and care, and quality of life for this group.

The OPHELIA-CVD project recruited participants from Ravenswood through Mr Mick Goss and the Ravenswood Neighbourhood House (Starting Point). While difficulties were encountered both in recruiting the numbers of participants originally anticipated, and in retaining participants to enable the envisaged longitudinal study, underscoring the ‘hard to reach’ nature of the target group, the researchers adopted a pragmatic approach, using the data obtained in the initial health literacy survey and individual interviews to provide vignettes of the target group.

The vignettes distilled the issues raised by the surveys and interviews and allowed the OPHELIA approach to be used in the target audience of one general practice and Starting Point-based groups by acting as triggers to discussion. The facilitated discussions also encouraged an active role for the target audience in designing interventions to improve the health literacy and mental and physical health, including reducing risk factors for cardio-vascular disease, of ‘hard to reach’ men.

During the research, funding was achieved to develop first the Ravenswood and then the Rocherlea Men’s Sheds, subsequently named the Ravenswood Men’s and Community Sheds (MACS) and ‘The Shed (Rocherlea)’. While the OPHELIA-CVD project takes no credit for these outcomes, they closely corresponded with the information obtained from the study’s participants. The OPHELIA approach has led to a range of other funded projects including ‘Healthy Sheds’, a highly successful intervention program, which was funded by the Tasmanian State Government under the Healthy Tasmania program, in direct response to the needs identified during the OPHELIA-CVD project. The OPHELIA-CVD project also led to the granting of anticipatory care funding in 2018 to the neighbourhood houses in Ravenswood and Rocherlea to develop projects designed to improve the health of people living in Launceston’s northern suburbs. A request for numeracy training by men using the Ravenswood Men’s and Community Shed has also led to a grant to develop a program with them in 2019.

Working closely with the Northern suburbs community, subsequent programs will hopefully provide the basis for further research and have or will provide interventions to improve health literacy and reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other disease in this and other target groups of the initial OPHELIA-CVD project.


Commissioning body

University of Tasmania


17 April


Tasmanian School of Medicine


University of Tasmania

Place of publication

Launceston, Tasmania

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified; Health inequalities; Men's health

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