Health literacy training for allied health professionals: development and evaluation of a train-the-trainer model

Ms Dragana Ceprnja1, Dr Danielle  Muscat1,2, Ms Kim Hobbs1, Ms Jodi-Anne Gibson1, Dr Caron Blumenthal1,2, Ms Rula Milad1, Ms Chris Burns1, Ms Timothea Lau1,2, Professor Vicki Flood1,2

1Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, Australia, 2University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Aims: (1) To develop and evaluate a health literacy training program for allied health professionals; and (2) to explore the feasibility of a train-the-trainer model to support dissemination.

Method: The program combined didactic and experiential teaching methods with behaviour change techniques, focussing on teach-back and developing easy-to understand written materials. Outcomes included participant reactions, confidence, behavioural intentions, and dissemination of training content. Implementation outcomes were evaluated using the Normalization MeAsure Development (NoMAD) tool.

Results: Of the 29 allied health professionals who participated, 90% rated the program as ‘excellent’/‘very good’, and 97% said the information was ‘extremely’/‘very’ helpful for their everyday practice. We observed increases in confidence (mean difference [MD] = 6.3, standard deviation [SD] = 2.7, t25 = 11.87, P < .001) and intentions (MD = 3.6, SD = 8.1, t23 = 2.2, P = .04) related to health literacy practices after 6 weeks. After 6 months, 95% of participants (n = 19) reported using teach-back and 50% (n = 10) reported having used a readability formula. Eight-five per cent of participants (17/20) had trained others in health literacy, reaching n = 201 allied health professionals and students. NoMAD scores were highest for cognitive participation (/20) (M = 18.2, SD = 2.1) and lowest for collective action (/35) (M = 25.4, SD = 3.0).

Conclusion: A train-the-trainer model appears to be a feasible method to disseminate health literacy training, but additional work may be needed to improve the sustainability of initiatives and their impact in busy clinical contexts.


Dragana Ceprnja is a Health Professional Educator and senior musculoskeletal physiotherapist at Westmead Hospital. Dragana is currently enrolled in a PhD at Western Sydney University, with the focus of her studies being pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain. Dragana has a strong commitment to improving health care experiences and outcomes in musculoskeletal conditions, and is involved in research addressing services in low back pain, knee osteoarthritis, education and health literacy. Dragana is Chair of the Physiotherapy Research Committee at Westmead Hospital and is a current recipient of the Westmead Hospital Charitable Trust Allied Health Research Grant.

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