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About our content

The healthdirect and Pregnancy, Birth and Baby websites are operated by Healthdirect Australia and deliver comprehensive content that is clinically trustworthy, relevant, current and accessible. Our goal is to make health information easy to understand, useful, engaging, and visually appealing.

Healthdirect Australia's Clinical Governance Framework offers the assurance that our health services, whether provided directly by us or by contracted service providers, are both reliable and of high quality.

Learn more about our Content Governance on this page.


On this page



Content contributors

We work with accredited health writers, clinical experts and production companies to produce our health information. Here is a list of some of our regular contributors:

Medical writing and reviews

Elsevier Health Sciences Australia
Elsevier provides information services for the science, health, and technology sectors, including publishing medical journals and textbooks. In addition to writing and reviewing new health content for our websites, Elsevier conducts scheduled reviews of existing content for clinical currency and quality assurance purposes.

Ragg & Co
Ragg & Co's panel of writers and editors comes from a range of backgrounds, including health, science and law. The firm’s director, Mark Ragg (MBBS BA), has worked as a doctor in emergency departments, and as a journalist with The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Deb Hirst
Deb has a Bachelor of Nursing degree and is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has worked both in hospital and in community settings as a Registered Nurse, Midwife, Childbirth Educator, Child and Family Health Nurse and Lactation Consultant.

Jane Carstens
Jane is a former registered nurse and a medical journalist. She has degrees in science and communications – BAppSc (Nursing) and BBusComm (Journalism) respectively – and is a member of the Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA).

Karyn Weitzner
Karyn is a freelance medical writer with more than 15 years’ experience writing informative and engaging educational materials both for health professionals and patients. She holds a PhD in chemistry and a Graduate Certificate in journalism.

Licensed content

EIDO Healthcare Australia
EIDO Healthcare Australia provides information about surgical procedures. The group’s content has been developed by qualified and practising consultant surgeons and physicians to help consumers make informed decisions.

Healthtalk
healthtalk.org conducts qualitative research and provides information about health issues by sharing people’s real-life experiences. The initiative is a partnership between the University of Oxford and the DIPEx charity. Healthtalk Australia is a local consortium of researchers based at Monash University, RMIT University, the University of Sydney, and UNSW.

UK National Health Service (NHS)
nhs.uk is the UK's biggest health website. Some of healthdirect’s online content, including the scripts behind the Symptom Checker, is based on information licensed from the NHS. Such health information has subsequently been reviewed and localised against Australian healthcare guidelines and standards.

Video content

Broken Yellow
Broken Yellow specialises in high-quality video, animation and design for a range of productions. Healthdirect Australia commissioned a series of animations from Broken Yellow that guides consumers through the Australian healthcare system.

Tonic Health Media
Tonic Health Media is one of Australia’s largest health and wellbeing media networks, created by health professionals in collaboration with media specialists. Healthdirect Australia commissioned a series of dementia awareness video productions from Tonic Health Media.

Information partner videos
Healthdirect Australia also includes on its websites video content produced by Australian health peak bodies and other organisations. Video provides easy access to high-quality healthcare information, presented by subject matter experts, and is beneficial to consumers at all levels of 'health literacy'. Learn more about our information partners below.

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Medicines information

The following sources are used to create healthdirect’s medicines pages. The data are refreshed once a month.

Australian Health Thesaurus (AHT)
The AHT is maintained by Healthdirect Australia and consists of health and medical terminology. It is also the source of the pregnancy and age-related information that appears on some medicines pages.

Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT)
The AMT identifies all medicines commonly used in Australia, including generic brands. It also provides standard names to accurately describe medications.

GuildLink
GuildLink is the provider of the high quality, standards-based photographic images of pills displayed on healthdirect’s medicines pages.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
The PBS provides details of the medicines subsidised by the Australian Government as well as information for consumers and health professionals.

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
The TGA is part of the Australian Government Department of Health. The TGA regulates the supply of prescription and non-prescription medicines and complementary medicines.

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Symptom Checker

The healthdirect Symptom Checker is an online tool that allows people to check their symptoms using a simple, self-guided triage process to get advice on what they should do next.

Healthdirect Australia developed the Symptom Checker in collaboration with the UK National Health Service (NHS) and an Australian expert clinical panel. This process has ensured that the tool is clinically trustworthy, supported by appropriate health information and is relevant to the Australian health system.

The healthdirect Symptom Checker is not a diagnostic tool or designed to replace a consultation with a health professional but is designed to support professional care.

Watch this video about the inception of the Symptom Checker.

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Service finder

The healthdirect service finder is powered by the National Health Services Directory (NHSD), a national directory of health services and the practitioners who provide them.

The NHSD data align with other national databases, such as AHPRA’s register of practitioners, ensuring consistency of data sets across the health sector. The NHSD also uses a best practice framework and consistent language to communicate across the health system by adhering to the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard and the SNOMED CT-AU taxonomy.

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Question Builder

The Question Builder helps people prepare for their medical appointment. Using the tool, they create a list of the most important questions to ask their doctor and to prepare for the questions they may be asked too.

The Question Builder was originally developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in the United States. Healthdirect Australia and The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care worked together to adapt it for the Australian healthcare system.

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Risk Checker

The Risk Checker was developed in partnership with The George Institute. It includes a series of questions about risk factors for heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. These 3 diseases are often related and the tool uses people's answers to estimate their risk of developing each condition. It also suggests the next steps and provides practical tips on how to lower their risk.

The risk calculation for heart disease is based on the Framingham risk equation, which has been adapted for the Australian population.

The risk calculation for kidney disease is based on the Kidney Health Australia–Caring for Australasians with Renal Impairment (KHA-CARI) Guidelines.

The risk calculation for diabetes is based on the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool, which was developed by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute on behalf of the Australian state and territory governments.

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Information partners

Healthdirect Australia works with a group of more than 200 leading Australian health organisations that provide trusted content which can be accessed through our range of online services. They include peak bodies, government agencies, research institutes, educational institutes and not-for-profit organisations. An information partnership reflects a shared vision to provide relevant and reliable health and related information to Australian consumers.

Information partners are assessed for the quality, relevance and technical attributes of their online resources. Each organisation and their clinical governance and content development processes are evaluated against the HONcode principles. They adhere to our publishing standards, which underpin the criteria that Healthdirect Australia uses when assessing organisations for information partnership.

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Standards and accreditation

Healthdirect Australia complies with relevant external standards for websites, including:

The HONcode
The HONcode, developed by the Health On the Net Foundation, is a code of ethics that guides website operators in setting up mechanisms to provide quality, objective and transparent medical information tailored to the needs of the audience. View our HONcode certificate here.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The World Wide Web Consortium’s guidelines, WCAG, define how organisations can make online content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines also make content more usable for older individuals, whose abilities are changing with age, and often improve usability in general.

World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes
These advisory notes are issued by the Australian Human Rights Commission. They are intended to assist organisations that develop web resources by clarifying the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

ACHS accreditation
The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality and safety of healthcare in Australia through continual review of performance, assessment and accreditation. Healthdirect Australia is fully accredited under the ACHS EQuIP5 Corporate Health Services, Standards and Guidelines designed for organisations that facilitate and support health services but do not provide direct point of care to patients.

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Guidelines and process

healthdirect's and Pregnancy, Birth and Baby's editorial oversight occurs at 2 levels:

  1. Strategic development of new features and content is managed by Healthdirect Australia's Service and Content teams to ensure usability and overall quality of the website and its content.
  2. Content development and publishing is overseen by the Clinical Governance team to ensure all health and clinically related content is trustworthy, appropriate and current.

Editorial guidelines

Content on the healthdirect and Pregnancy, Birth and Baby websites needs to adhere to Healthdirect Australia's Editorial Guidelines.

These guidelines have been produced to ensure Healthdirect Australia’s digital services, such as websites, tools, applications and widgets, follow best editorial practice, use consistent, correct and consumer-focused language and that all content is optimised for digital consumption and search engines.

Health literacy

Australians who use Healthdirect Australia’s online and other services come from a wide variety of backgrounds and demographics. They also vary in their ability to access health-related information, and to understand and make decisions about their own health – their overall ‘health literacy’.

Ensuring that content takes into account differing levels of ‘health literacy’ is a crucial objective.

Healthdirect Australia aims to provide consumers with accessible, understandable information that will allow them to make informed decisions about their own health. Where possible, content should outline specific actions readers can take to maintain or improve their health as well as deal with illness and even emergencies.

Content development process

Healthdirect Australia’s ‘Pathways Process’ applies to content that is manually planned, developed, produced, published and maintained by Healthdirect Australia within the digital properties and channels we operate. Processes outline workflows that cover both the creation of new content and its ongoing maintenance.

Healthdirect Australia’s content development process includes the following phases:

  1. Content planning and creation – gap analysis and evidence-based planning sessions take place regularly to inform content briefs; content is commissioned from accredited health writers, licensed from clinically approved sources or written in-house by Healthdirect Australia staff.
  2. Clinical and editorial reviews – clinical content is fact checked and peer reviewed by the appropriate health professionals; all information is editorially reviewed and sub-edited in line with Healthdirect Australia’s editorial guidelines.
  3. Classification and publishing – content is classified to ensure accurate clinical categorisation and metadata are optimised for search; publishing reviews are conducted prior to live release.
  4. Audit and evaluation – new content is audited quarterly by an independent reviewer and by Healthdirect Australia’s Clinical Governance team, ensuring both a user-centric approach and continuous process and content improvements.

Information and data management

Healthdirect Australia manages and maintains the Australian Health Thesaurus, a taxonomy of medical, health and human services-related concepts that reflect the current Australian environment. Concepts, including medicine terms, are mapped to standard terminologies, such as SNOMED, to enhance linked data opportunities.

Content maintenance and quality assurance

All content is reviewed on a regular basis to make sure it is complete, accurate and trustworthy. Our standard review frequency is every 2 years, with some topics reviewed more often due to the nature of the subject matter. ‘Last reviewed’ dates appear clearly on individual pages.

In addition to these regular reviews of specific health content, our associated processes are audited and assessed periodically to ensure best practice content governance.

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Sources and attribution

Our health information is evidence-based, with content supported by reliable sources. Healthdirect Australia aims to use Australian, non-commercial sources, including:

  • clinical practice guidelines and/or position statements
  • Australian government department statements
  • reviews in peer-reviewed literature
  • Australian data and statistics
  • assessed partner organisations

Original (‘first hand’) sources of the material are referenced on our web pages. All references cited provide a title to identify the source and a link to the source website where possible.

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Advertising policy

Healthdirect Australia’s websites do not receive funding from advertising the products or services of other organisations. We don’t promote the interests of any person or organisation who may financially benefit as a result of information placed on the website.

Healthdirect Australia ensures the company makes information available on its websites with the primary objective of providing an important health service to users of that information.

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Editorial team

Our editorial leadership team ensures the content on the healthdirect and Pregnancy, Birth and Baby websites is developed in accordance with Healthdirect Australia's guidelines and governance processes. The team provides strategic direction and oversees the external contributors who write and review our content.

Dr Marie-Louise Stokes, Chief Medical Officer

MBBS, BA, MPH, FAFPHM

Marie-Louise is responsible for strategic clinical leadership to support the design, planning, implementation and evaluation of Healthdirect Australia’s digital and telehealth services. As Chief Medical Officer, she plays a key role in the clinical safety of all content developed for Australian healthcare consumers.


Mary Byrne, Service Director, healthdirect

Registered Nurse, BHS (Nursing), BTheol, BA (Hons), MHL

Mary leads the team responsible for the free, 24-hour Australian health advice and information service. The service is available via telephone helplines and multiple digital channels, supporting users in managing their own health so as to achieve better health outcomes.


Gail Hart, Clinical Lead, healthdirect omni-channel services

Registered Nurse, Grad. Cert. (Intensive Care), Grad. Cert. (Clinical Management)

As a member of the Clinical Governance division, Gail ensures that our Clinical Governance Framework is applied to all Healthdirect Australia’s digital platforms.


Dianne Zalitis, Clinical Lead, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby

BHsc (Nursing), Registered Midwife and Nurse, Grad. Dip. (Business Admin)

Dianne is Healthdirect Australia’s clinical lead for the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby service. As a member of the Clinical Governance division, Dianne oversees the quality and clinical trustworthiness of the website and contact centre in line with our Clinical Governance Framework.


Francis Wilkins, Digital Editor

BA Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology

Francis ensures content produced for Healthdirect Australia’s digital channels is fit for purpose, including being compliant with health literacy principles. He also consults and advises on media and communications issues throughout the business, drawing on over 20 years’ experience as a reporter, writer, editor and sub-editor.


Camilla Svensson, Senior Digital Producer

BA Communications

Camilla manages Healthdirect Australia’s Digital Content team, which is responsible for delivering the content strategies governing the online components of our services. Key activities include content planning, commissioning, production, publishing and continuing quality assurance and optimisation.


James Humffray, Information Manager

BA Library and Information Science

James oversees the design, delivery and management of the taxonomies, ontologies and vocabularies that support Healthdirect Australia’s online properties. He assists with information architecture development and management, including providing input to content modelling as channels are developed and evolve.

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NOTE: While it is reviewed for clinical accuracy, the content on the healthdirect and Pregnancy, Birth and Baby websites is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional healthcare. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult your doctor or a specialist.


Last reviewed: July 2019

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