Prof R Dowse

Qualification:    BPharm, PhD

Position: Emeritus Associate Professor

Room no: 409  Telephone no: 0466038071  Email:


Health literacy, health education and health communication in limited literacy populations:

  • Development and evaluation of health- and medicine-related pictograms, and simple written information (leaflets, posters, labels), using a user-centred participatory method to ensure cultural and lifestyle acceptability.
  • Development of an appropriate health literacy test for South Africa, as well as modifying current tests and evaluating these for local applicability

Patient-centred care, illness narratives:

  • Medicine use in swallowing-impaired patients
  • Quality of life evaluation in head and neck cancer patients

Selected Publications

  • Dowse R. The limitations of current health literacy measures for use in developing countries. Journal of Communication in Healthcare. 2016;9:4-6. DOI: 10.1080/17538068.2016.1147742
  • Okeyo I, Dowse R. Community care worker perceptions of their roles in tuberculosis care and their information needs. Health SA Gesondheid. 2016;21:245-252. DOI: 10.1016/j.hsag.2016.05.004
  • Dowse R. Reflecting on patient-centred care in pharmacy through an illness narrative. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, 2015;37:551-554. DOI 10.1007/s11096-015-0104-5
  • Patel S, Dowse R. Understanding the medicine information-seeking behaviour and information needs of South African long-term patients with limited literacy skills. Health Expectations. 2015;18:1494-1507. DOI 10.1111/hex.12131
  • Dowse R, Barford K, Browne SH. Simple, illustrated medicines information improves ARV knowledge and patient self-efficacy in limited literacy South African HIV patients. AIDS Care, 2014;26:1400-1406

Book Chapters

Dowse R. Using pictograms in a patient information leaflet to communicate antiretroviral medicines information to HIV/AIDS patients in rural South Africa. In: Health communication in Southern Africa: Engaging with social and cultural diversity. Lagerwerf L, Boer H, Wasserman H, eds. Amsterdam/Pretoria: Rozenberg/UNISA Press. 2009. pp.155-175

Recent former students

2017. F Chiwanza. MPharm (distinction). Evaluation of the acceptability of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in a semi-rural, Eastern Cape population
2016. I Okeyo. MPharm. Community care workers in TB care: identifying and meeting their information needs
2015. S Patel. PhD. The design and evaluation of targeted patient-centred health information to improve knowledge and behavioural outcomes in tuberculosis patients with limited literacy
2014. L Mugore. PhD. Adherence to antiretroviral therapy in children in Zimbabwe: a randomized control trial to evaluate a new self-reported adherence monitoring tool
2012. W Wrench.  MPharm. Patient Information Leaflets (PILs): Do they Influence metered dose inhaler technique and understanding of asthma?
2011. K-L Barford, MPharm (distinction). Illustrated patient information for low literate HIV/AIDS patients on ARV therapy to improve knowledge and medicine taking behaviour
2010. P Hill. PhD. The South African community pharmacist and Type 2 diabetes mellitus:a randomised controlled trial of a pharmaceutical care intervention
2009. T Ramela. MPharm. An illustrated information leaflet for low-literate HIV/AIDS patients on antiretroviral therapy: Design, development and evaluation

Web presence


Awards and grants

2016   Best Publication: Pharmacy Practice. All Africa Congress on Pharmacology and Pharmacy - 37th Annual Congress of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences
2015   Honorary Life Membership of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences
2014   Best Academic Podium Presentation. 28th Annual Conference of the South African Association of Hospital and Institutional Pharmacists
2010   Best Academic Podium Presentation. 24th Annual Conference of the South African Association of Hospital and Institutional Pharmacists
2006   Best Publication: Pharmacy Practice. 4th International Conference on Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
2004. Best Publication: Pharmacy Practice. 25th Annual Congress of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Grahamstown

Professional affiliations

South African Association of Hospital and Institutional Pharmacists
South African Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Hobbies and interests

As a consequence of my 20 year history of oral cancer and my experiences with the healthcare system and health professionals, I have integrated my various life roles as patient, health professional and researcher to act as a “patient advocate to the health professions”. I deliver talks either at conferences or at smaller gathering to health professionals (pharmacists, surgeons, prosthodontists, nurses, physiotherapists, speech therapists etc). I particularly enjoy talking to students training to be health professionals, and to fellow cancer patients. Through my illness narrative, I attempt to offer some insight into the compromised lived reality of oral cancer patients, and actively encourage patient-centred care

I am a birdwatcher, love listening to music, and read widely. Living close to Nature on a hillside surrounded by indigenous bush, and walking every day with my dog in the beautiful Grahamstown surrounds helps me (more or less) keep a grip on my sanity!


Last Modified: Wed, 26 Jul 2017 11:04:56 SAST