Communications & Media

Bhutanese community works with researchers to improve health literacy

Tasmania’s Bhutanese community and University of Tasmania researchers are collaborating to improve medication literacy, with new and much-needed resources to be launched in Hobart today (Wednesday, 3 October).

Two film clips featuring members of the Bhutanese former refugee community demonstrating and explaining the safe use of medication were produced, following research by the School of Medicine’s Dr Shandell Elmer and Dr Linda Murray into the ways medication is accessed and understood by the community.

“The recall of what people say in an interaction with a doctor for any one of us is often a bit patchy, but for people who are new to the medical system it can be very confusing – even with an interpreter,” Dr Elmer said

“If you can imagine the very stark difference from a refugee camp where you simply line up in front of a tent to receive medication, to a whole new country with a different language and a different system – where you see a doctor who gives you a piece of paper, not the medication.

“Managing that becomes even more complicated when you have repeat prescriptions and special storage and management requirements.”

Initially the research included community members taking a special USB recording device to doctor’s appointments attended by an interpreter, which they could replay again at home.

The production of the film clips was the next step in providing general information on medication to the broader community.

Dr Elmer said the Bhutanese community in the North and the South of the State was heavily involved in acting in and making the clips titled Medication Safety in Australia and Experiences of Using Medications in Australia.

“The community was so excited and engaged and gave a great deal of time to the project,” she said.

“We hope these videos will be widely accessed as an education tool for this community, especially by community members who may not be literate in English or Nepali.”

The videos can be accessed on You tube at

Published on: 03 Oct 2018 12:52pm