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1.  Identifying barriers and improving communication between cancer service providers and Aboriginal patients and their families: the perspective of service providers 
Background
Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes from cancer compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Some progress has been made in understanding Aboriginal Australians’ perspectives about cancer and their experiences with cancer services. However, little is known of cancer service providers’ (CSPs) thoughts and perceptions regarding Aboriginal patients and their experiences providing optimal cancer care to Aboriginal people. Communication between Aboriginal patients and non-Aboriginal health service providers has been identified as an impediment to good Aboriginal health outcomes. This paper reports on CSPs’ views about the factors impairing communication and offers practical strategies for promoting effective communication with Aboriginal patients in Western Australia (WA).
Methods
A qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with 62 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal CSPs from across WA was conducted between March 2006 - September 2007 and April-October 2011. CSPs were asked to share their experiences with Aboriginal patients and families experiencing cancer. Thematic analysis was carried out. Our analysis was primarily underpinned by the socio-ecological model, but concepts of Whiteness and privilege, and cultural security also guided our analysis.
Results
CSPs’ lack of knowledge about the needs of Aboriginal people with cancer and Aboriginal patients’ limited understanding of the Western medical system were identified as the two major impediments to communication. For effective patient–provider communication, attention is needed to language, communication style, knowledge and use of medical terminology and cross-cultural differences in the concept of time. Aboriginal marginalization within mainstream society and Aboriginal people’s distrust of the health system were also key issues impacting on communication. Potential solutions to effective Aboriginal patient-provider communication included recruiting more Aboriginal staff, providing appropriate cultural training for CSPs, cancer education for Aboriginal stakeholders, continuity of care, avoiding use of medical jargon, accommodating patients’ psychosocial and logistical needs, and in-service coordination.
Conclusion
Individual CSPs identified challenges in cross-cultural communication and their willingness to accommodate culture-specific needs within the wider health care system including better communication with Aboriginal patients. However, participants’ comments indicated a lack of concerted effort at the system level to address Aboriginal disadvantage in cancer outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-460
PMCID: PMC3835135  PMID: 24188503
Aboriginal; Indigenous; Cancer; Communication; Health service provider; Cancer service provider
2.  A Guide for Health Professionals Working with Aboriginal Peoples: Executive Summary 
Objective
to provide Canadian health professionals with a network of information and recommendations regarding Aboriginal health.
Options
health professionals working with Aboriginal individuals and communities in the area of women’s health care.
Outcomes
improved health status of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Appropriateness and accessibility of women’s health services for Aboriginal peoples.
Improved communication and clinical skills of health professionals in the area of Aboriginal health.
Improved quality of relationship between health professionals and Aboriginal individuals and communities.
Improved quality of relationship between health care professionals and Aboriginal individuals and communities.
Evidence
recommendations are based on expert opinion and a review of the literature. Published references were identified by a Medline search of all review articles, randomized clinical control trials, meta-analyses, and practice guidelines from 1966 to February 1999, using the MeSH headings “Indians, North American or Eskimos” and “Health.”* Subsequently published articles were brought to the attention of the authors in the process of writing and reviewing the document. Ancillary and unpublished references were recommended by members of the SOGC Aboriginal Health Issues Committee and the panel of expert reviewers.
Values
information collected was reviewed by the principal author. The social, cultural, political, and historic context of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, systemic barriers regarding the publication of information by Aboriginal authors, the diversity of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and the need for a culturally appropriate and balanced presentation were carefully considered in addition to more traditional scientific evaluation. The majority of information collected consisted of descriptive health and social information and such evaluation tools as the evidence guidelines of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health exam were not appropriate.
Benefits, costs, and harms
utilization of the information and recommendations by Canadian health professionals will enhance understanding, communication, and clinical skills in the area of Aboriginal health. The resulting enhancement of collaborative relationships between Aboriginal peoples and their women’s health providers may contribute to health services that are more appropriate, effective, efficient, and accessible for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The educational process may require an initial investment of time from the health professional.
Recommendations
Recommendations were grouped according to four themes: sociocultural context, health concerns, cross-cultural understanding, and Aboriginal health resources. Health professionals are encouraged to learn the appropriate names, demographics, and traditional geographic territories and language groups of the various Aboriginal groups in Canada. In addition, sensitivity to the impact of colonization and current socioeconomic challenges to the health status of Aboriginal peoples is warranted. Health services for Aboriginal peoples should take place as close to home as possible. Governmental obligations and policies regarding determination are recognized. With respect to health concerns, holistic definitions of health, based on Aboriginal perspectives, are put forward. Aboriginal peoples continue to experience a disproportionate burden of health problems. Health professionals are encouraged to become familiar with several key areas of morbidity and mortality. Relationships between Aboriginal peoples and their care providers need to be based on a foundation of mutual respect. Gaps and barriers in the current health care system for Aboriginal peoples are identified. Health professionals are encouraged to work with Aboriginal individuals and communities to address these gaps and barriers. Aboriginal peoples require culturally appropriate health care, including treatment in their own languages when possible. This may require interpreters or Aboriginal health advocates. Health professionals are encouraged to recognize the importance of family and community roles, and to respect traditional medicines and healers. Health professionals can develop their sensitivities towards Aboriginal peoples by participating in workshops, making use of educational resources, and by spending time with Aboriginal peoples in their communities. Aboriginal communities and health professionals are encouraged to support community-based, community-directed health services and health research for Aboriginal peoples. In addition, the education of more Aboriginal health professionals is essential. The need for a preventative approach to health programming in Aboriginal communities is stressed.
Validation
recommendations were reviewed and revised by the SOGC Aboriginal Health Issues Committee, a panel of expert reviewers, and the SOGC Council. In addition, this document was also reviewed and supported by the Assembly of First Nations, Canadian Institute of Child Health, Canadian Paediatric Society, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Federation of Medical Women of Canada, Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, Metis National Council, National Indian and Inuit Community Health Representatives Organization, and Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association.
Sponsor
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
PMCID: PMC3653835  PMID: 23682204 CAMSID: cams2752
3.  Exploration of the beliefs and experiences of Aboriginal people with cancer in Western Australia: a methodology to acknowledge cultural difference and build understanding 
Background
Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes, and are 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people, even after adjustment for stage of diagnosis, cancer treatment and comorbidities. They are also less likely to present early as a result of symptoms and to access treatment. Psycho-social factors affect Aboriginal people's willingness and ability to participate in cancer-related screening and treatment services, but little exploration of this has occurred within Australia to date. The current research adopted a phenomenological qualitative approach to understand and explore the lived experiences of Aboriginal Australians with cancer and their beliefs and understanding around this disease in Western Australia (WA). This paper details considerations in the design and process of conducting the research.
Methods/Design
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for ethical conduct of Aboriginal research were followed. Researchers acknowledged the past negative experiences of Aboriginal people with research and were keen to build trust and relationships prior to conducting research with them. Thirty in-depth interviews with Aboriginal people affected by cancer and twenty with health service providers were carried out in urban, rural and remote areas of WA. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two researchers. NVivo7 software was used to assist data management and analysis. Participants' narratives were divided into broad categories to allow identification of key themes and discussed by the research team.
Discussion and conclusion
Key issues specific to Aboriginal research include the need for the research process to be relationship-based, respectful, culturally appropriate and inclusive of Aboriginal people. Researchers are accountable to both participants and the wider community for reporting their findings and for research translation so that the research outcomes benefit the Aboriginal community. There are a number of factors that influence whether the desired level of engagement can be achieved in practice. These include the level of resourcing for the project and the researchers' efforts to ensure dissemination and research translation; and the capacity of the Aboriginal community to engage with research given other demands upon their time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-9-60
PMCID: PMC2743702  PMID: 19674484
4.  Factors contributing to delayed diagnosis of cancer among Aboriginal people in Australia: a qualitative study 
BMJ Open  2016;6(6):e010909.
Background/objectives
Delayed presentation of symptomatic cancer is associated with poorer survival. Aboriginal patients with cancer have higher rates of distant metastases at diagnosis compared with non-Aboriginal Australians. This paper examined factors contributing to delayed diagnosis of cancer among Aboriginal Australians from patient and service providers' perspectives.
Methods
In-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted in two stages (2006–2007 and 2011). Inductive thematic analysis was assisted by use of NVivo looking around delays in presentation, diagnosis and referral for cancer.
Participants
Aboriginal patients with cancer/family members (n=30) and health service providers (n=62) were recruited from metropolitan Perth and six rural/remote regions of Western Australia.
Results
Three broad themes of factors were identified: (1) Contextual factors such as intergenerational impact of colonisation and racism and socioeconomic deprivation have negatively impacted on Aboriginal Australians' trust of the healthcare professionals; (2) health service-related factors included low accessibility to health services, long waiting periods, inadequate numbers of Aboriginal professionals and high staff turnover; (3) patient appraisal of symptoms and decision-making, fear of cancer and denial of symptoms were key reasons patients procrastinated in seeking help. Elements of shame, embarrassment, shyness of seeing the doctor, psychological ‘fear of the whole health system’, attachment to the land and ‘fear of leaving home’ for cancer treatment in metropolitan cities were other deterrents for Aboriginal people. Manifestation of masculinity and the belief that ‘health is women's domain’ emerged as a reason why Aboriginal men were reluctant to receive health checks.
Conclusions
Solutions to improved Aboriginal cancer outcomes include focusing on the primary care sector encouraging general practitioners to be proactive to suspicion of symptoms with appropriate investigations to facilitate earlier diagnosis and the need to improve Aboriginal health literacy regarding cancer. Access to health services remains a critical problem affecting timely diagnosis.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010909
PMCID: PMC4893856  PMID: 27259526
Cancer; Indigenous health; Aboriginal; health service delivery; diagnosis; health seeking behaviour
5.  Improving healthcare for Aboriginal Australians through effective engagement between community and health services 
Background
Effectively addressing health disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians is long overdue. Health services engaging Aboriginal communities in designing and delivering healthcare is one way to tackle the issue. This paper presents findings from evaluating a unique strategy of community engagement between local Aboriginal people and health providers across five districts in Perth, Western Australia. Local Aboriginal community members formed District Aboriginal Health Action Groups (DAHAGs) to collaborate with health providers in designing culturally-responsive healthcare. The purpose of the strategy was to improve local health service delivery for Aboriginal Australians.
Methods
The evaluation aimed to identify whether the Aboriginal community considered the community engagement strategy effective in identifying their health service needs, translating them to action by local health services and increasing their trust in these health services. Participants were recruited using purposive sampling. Qualitative data was collected from Aboriginal participants and health service providers using semi-structured interviews or yarning circles that were recorded, transcribed and independently analysed by two senior non-Aboriginal researchers. Responses were coded for key themes, further analysed for similarities and differences between districts and cross-checked by the senior lead Aboriginal researcher to avoid bias and establish reliability in interpreting the data. Three ethics committees approved conducting the evaluation.
Results
Findings from 60 participants suggested the engagement process was effective: it was driven and owned by the Aboriginal community, captured a broad range of views and increased Aboriginal community participation in decisions about their healthcare. It built community capacity through regular community forums and established DAHAGs comprising local Aboriginal community members and health service representatives who met quarterly and were supported by the Aboriginal Health Team at the local Population Health Unit. Participants reported health services improved in community and hospital settings, leading to increased access and trust in local health services.
Conclusion
The evaluation concluded that this process of actively engaging the Aboriginal community in decisions about their health care was a key element in improving local health services, increasing Aboriginal people’s trust and access to care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1497-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1497-0
PMCID: PMC4936288  PMID: 27388224
Aboriginal health; Community engagement; Partnership; Access
6.  Understanding, beliefs and perspectives of Aboriginal people in Western Australia about cancer and its impact on access to cancer services 
Background
Despite a lower overall incidence, Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes from cancer compared with the non-Aboriginal population as manifested by higher mortality and lower 5-year survival rates. Lower participation in screening, later diagnosis of cancer, poor continuity of care, and poorer compliance with treatment are known factors contributing to this poor outcome. Nevertheless, many deficits remain in understanding the underlying reasons, with the recommendation of further exploration of Aboriginal beliefs and perceptions of cancer to help understand their care-seeking behavior. This could assist with planning and delivery of more effective interventions and better services for the Aboriginal population. This research explored Western Australian (WA) Aboriginal peoples' perceptions, beliefs and understanding of cancer.
Methods
A total of 37 Aboriginal people from various geographical areas within WA with a direct or indirect experience of cancer were interviewed between March 2006 and September 2007. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two researchers. NVivo7 software was used to assist data management and analysis. A social constructionist framework provided a theoretical basis for analysis. Interpretation occurred within the research team with member checking and the involvement of an Aboriginal Reference Group assisting with ensuring validity and reliability.
Results
Outcomes indicated that misunderstanding, fear of death, fatalism, shame, preference for traditional healing, beliefs such as cancer is contagious and other spiritual issues affected their decisions around accessing services. These findings provide important information for health providers who are involved in cancer-related service delivery.
Conclusion
These underlying beliefs must be specifically addressed to develop appropriate educational, screening and treatment approaches including models of care and support that facilitate better engagement of Indigenous people. Models of care and support that are more culturally-friendly, where health professionals take account of both Indigenous and Western beliefs about health and the relationship between these, and which engage and include Indigenous people need to be developed. Cultural security, removing system barriers and technical/scientific excellence are all important to ensure Indigenous people utilise healthcare to realise the benefits of modern cancer treatments.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-132
PMCID: PMC2731745  PMID: 19643031
7.  Opportunistic screening to detect atrial fibrillation in Aboriginal adults in Australia 
BMJ Open  2016;6(11):e013576.
Introduction
There is a 10-year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. The leading cause of death for Aboriginal Australians is cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarction and stroke. Although atrial fibrillation (AF) is a known precursor to stroke there are no published studies about the prevalence of AF for Aboriginal people and limited evidence about AF in indigenous populations globally.
Methods and analysis
This mixed methods study will recruit and train Aboriginal health workers to use an iECG device attached to a smartphone to consecutively screen 1500 Aboriginal people aged 45 years and older. The study will quantify the proportion of people who presented for follow-up assessment and/or treatment following a non-normal screening and then estimate the prevalence and age distribution of AF of the Australian Aboriginal population. The study includes semistructured interviews with the Aboriginal health workers about the effectiveness of the iECG device in their practice as well as their perceptions of the acceptability of the device for their patients. Thematic analysis will be undertaken on the qualitative data collected in the study. If the device and approach are acceptable to the Aboriginal people and widely adopted, it may help prevent the effects of untreated AF including ischaemic stroke and early deaths or impairment in Aboriginal people.
Ethics and dissemination
This mixed methods study received ethics approval from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (1135/15) and the Australian Health Council of Western Australia (HREC706). Ethics approval is being sought in the Northern Territory. The findings of this study will be shared with Aboriginal communities, in peer reviewed publications and at conferences. There are Aboriginal investigators in each state/territory where the study is being conducted who have been actively involved in the study. They will also be involved in data analysis, dissemination and research translation.
Trial registration number
ACTRN12616000459426.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013576
PMCID: PMC5129009  PMID: 27852724
PUBLIC HEALTH
8.  The role of traditional medicine practice in primary health care within Aboriginal Australia: a review of the literature 
The practice of traditional Aboriginal medicine within Australia is at risk of being lost due to the impact of colonisation. Displacement of people from traditional lands as well as changes in family structures affecting passing on of cultural knowledge are two major examples of this impact. Prior to colonisation traditional forms of healing, such as the use of traditional healers, healing songs and bush medicines were the only source of primary health care. It is unclear to what extent traditional medical practice remains in Australia in 2013 within the primary health care setting, and how this practice sits alongside the current biomedical health care model. An extensive literature search was performed from a wide range of literature sources in attempt to identify and examine both qualitatively and quantitatively traditional medicine practices within Aboriginal Australia today. Whilst there is a lack of academic literature and research on this subject the literature found suggests that traditional medicine practice in Aboriginal Australia still remains and the extent to which it is practiced varies widely amongst communities across Australia. This variation was found to depend on association with culture and beliefs about disease causation, type of illness presenting, success of biomedical treatment, and accessibility to traditional healers and bush medicines. Traditional medicine practices were found to be used sequentially, compartmentally and concurrently with biomedical healthcare. Understanding more clearly the role of traditional medicine practice, as well as looking to improve and support integrative and governance models for traditional medicine practice, could have a positive impact on primary health care outcomes for Aboriginal Australia.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-9-46
PMCID: PMC3702459  PMID: 23819729
Australian Aboriginal Health; Bush Medicine; Traditional Healers; Traditional Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Medicine; Australian Ethnomedicine
9.  Improving palliative care outcomes for Aboriginal Australians: service providers’ perspectives 
BMC Palliative Care  2013;12:26.
Background
Aboriginal Australians have a lower rate of utilisation of palliative care services than the general population. This study aimed to explore care providers’ experiences and concerns in providing palliative care for Aboriginal people, and to identify opportunities for overcoming gaps in understanding between them and their Aboriginal patients and families.
Methods
In-depth, qualitative interviews with urban, rural and remote palliative care providers were undertaken in inpatient and community settings in Western Australia. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two researchers with QSR NVivo 10 software used to help manage data. Data analysis was informed by multiple theoretical standpoints, including the social ecological model, critical cultural theories and the ‘cultural security’ framework. Thematic analysis was carried out that identified patterns within data.
Results
Fifteen palliative care providers were interviewed. Overall they reported lack of understanding of Aboriginal culture and being uncertain of the needs and priorities of Aboriginal people during end-of-life care. According to several participants, very few Aboriginal people had an understanding of palliative care. Managing issues such as anger, denial, the need for non-medical support due to socioeconomic disadvantage, and dealing with crises and conflicts over funeral arrangements were reported as some of the tensions between Aboriginal patients and families and the service providers.
Conclusion
Early referral to palliative care is important in demonstrating and maintaining a caring therapeutic relationship. Paramount to meeting the needs for Aboriginal patients was access to appropriate information and logistical, psychological and emotional support. These were often seen as essential but additional to standard palliative care services. The broader context of Aboriginal history and historical distrust of mainstream services was seen to impinge on Aboriginal people’s willingness and ability to accept care and support from these services. This context needs to be understood and acknowledged at the system level. More cultural safety training was requested by care providers but it was not seen as replacing the need for an Aboriginal worker in the palliative care team.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-12-26
PMCID: PMC3729490  PMID: 23875957
Palliative care; End of life care; Aboriginal; Indigenous; Cultural safety; Australia
10.  ‘Beats the alternative but it messes up your life’: Aboriginal people's experience of haemodialysis in rural Australia 
BMJ Open  2014;4(9):e005945.
Objectives
Australian Aboriginal people have at least eight times the incidence of end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis, as the non-Aboriginal population. Provision of health services to rural Aboriginal people with renal disease is challenging due to barriers to access and cultural differences. We aimed to describe the experiences of Aboriginal people receiving haemodialysis in rural Australia, to inform strategies for improving renal services.
Design
A qualitative design incorporating: Indigenist research methodology and Community Based Participatory Research principles. In-depth interviews used a ‘yarning’ and storytelling approach. Thematic analysis was undertaken and verified by an Aboriginal Community Reference Group.
Setting
A health district in rural New South Wales, Australia.
Participants
Snowball sampling recruited 18 Aboriginal haemodialysis recipients.
Results
Six themes emerged which described the patient journey: ‘The biggest shock of me life,’ expressed the shock of diagnosis and starting the dialysis; ‘Beats the alternative but it messes up your life,’ explained how positive attitudes to treatment develop; ‘Family is everything’, described the motivation and support to continue dialysis; ‘If I had one of them nurses at home to help me’, depicted acute hospital settings as culturally unsafe; ‘Don't use them big jawbreakers’, urged service providers to use simple language and cultural awareness; ‘Stop ‘em following us onto the machine’, emphasised the desire for education for the younger generations about preventing kidney disease. An Aboriginal interpretation of this experience, linked to the analysis, was depicted in the form of an Aboriginal painting.
Conclusions
Family enables Aboriginal people to endure haemodialysis. Patients believe that priorities for improving services include family-centred and culturally accommodating healthcare systems; and improving access to early screening of kidney disease. Inclusion of Aboriginal patients in cultural education for renal staff is recommended. Providing opportunities for patients to educate young Aboriginal people about kidney disease prevention may be highly effective and empowering.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005945
PMCID: PMC4166141  PMID: 25231493
QUALITATIVE RESEARCH; Dialysis < NEPHROLOGY; End stage renal failure < NEPHROLOGY
11.  Addressing HIV/AIDS among Aboriginal People using a Health Status, Health Determinants and Health Care Framework: A Literature Review and Conceptual Analysis 
Objectives
(1) To describe the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal populations using a mixed methods approach (i.e. quantitative and qualitative methods); (2) to examine the individual-level and community-level relationships between HIV/AIDS, health determinants, and health care (e.g. diagnosis, access to treatment and health services planning); and (3) to explore innovative solutions to address HIV/AIDS among Aboriginal populations based upon research and infrastructure (e.g. partnerships, data sources and management, health indicators and culture) and policy (i.e. self-determination of Aboriginal Peoples).
Methods
Literature review and conceptual analysis using a health status, health determinants and health care framework.
Results
In comparison to non-Aboriginal persons, HIV infection is higher among Aboriginal persons, is more directly attributable to unique risk factors and socio-demographic characteristics, and yields more adverse health outcomes. Culture, poverty and self-determination are determinants of health for Aboriginal populations. Aboriginal people have inadequate primary care and, in particular, specialist care. It is necessary to include traditional Aboriginal approaches and culture when addressing Aboriginal health while understanding competing paradigms between modern medicine and Aboriginal traditions.
Conclusion
There is a need for self-determination of Aboriginal Peoples in order to improve the health of Aboriginal communities and those living with HIV/AIDS. Research and policy affecting Aboriginal people should be of the highest quality and based upon Aboriginal community relevance and involvement.
PMCID: PMC4935527  PMID: 27398110 CAMSID: cams5614
12.  Culturally appropriate methodology in obtaining a representative sample of South Australian Aboriginal adults for a cross-sectional population health study: challenges and resolutions 
BMC Research Notes  2015;8:200.
Background
The considerably lower average life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, compared with non-Aboriginal and non-Torres Strait Islander Australians, has been widely reported. Prevalence data for chronic disease and health risk factors are needed to provide evidence based estimates for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders population health planning. Representative surveys for these populations are difficult due to complex methodology. The focus of this paper is to describe in detail the methodological challenges and resolutions of a representative South Australian Aboriginal population-based health survey.
Methods
Using a stratified multi-stage sampling methodology based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census with culturally appropriate and epidemiological rigorous methods, 11,428 randomly selected dwellings were approached from a total of 209 census collection districts. All persons eligible for the survey identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and were selected from dwellings identified as having one or more Aboriginal person(s) living there at the time of the survey.
Results
Overall, the 399 interviews from an eligible sample of 691 SA Aboriginal adults yielded a response rate of 57.7%. These face-to-face interviews were conducted by ten interviewers retained from a total of 27 trained Aboriginal interviewers. Challenges were found in three main areas: identification and recruitment of participants; interviewer recruitment and retainment; and using appropriate engagement with communities. These challenges were resolved, or at least mainly overcome, by following local protocols with communities and their representatives, and reaching agreement on the process of research for Aboriginal people.
Conclusions
Obtaining a representative sample of Aboriginal participants in a culturally appropriate way was methodologically challenging and required high levels of commitment and resources. Adhering to these principles has resulted in a rich and unique data set that provides an overview of the self-reported health status for Aboriginal people living in South Australia. This process provides some important principles to be followed when engaging with Aboriginal people and their communities for the purpose of health research.
doi:10.1186/s13104-015-1080-5
PMCID: PMC4445986  PMID: 25986553
Aboriginal health; Methodology; Recruitment; Population survey; Cultural appropriateness
13.  Blending Aboriginal and Western healing methods to treat intergenerational trauma with substance use disorder in Aboriginal peoples who live in Northeastern Ontario, Canada 
As with many Indigenous groups around the world, Aboriginal communities in Canada face significant challenges with trauma and substance use. The complexity of symptoms that accompany intergenerational trauma and substance use disorders represents major challenges in the treatment of both disorders. There appears to be an underutilization of substance use and mental health services, substantial client dropout rates, and an increase in HIV infections in Aboriginal communities in Canada. The aim of this paper is to explore and evaluate current literature on how traditional Aboriginal healing methods and the Western treatment model “Seeking Safety” could be blended to help Aboriginal peoples heal from intergenerational trauma and substance use disorders. A literature search was conducted using the keywords: intergenerational trauma, historical trauma, Seeking Safety, substance use, Two-Eyed Seeing, Aboriginal spirituality, and Aboriginal traditional healing. Through a literature review of Indigenous knowledge, most Indigenous scholars proposed that the wellness of an Aboriginal community can only be adequately measured from within an Indigenous knowledge framework that is holistic, inclusive, and respectful of the balance between the spiritual, emotional, physical, and social realms of life. Their findings indicate that treatment interventions must honour the historical context and history of Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, there appears to be strong evidence that strengthening cultural identity, community integration, and political empowerment can enhance and improve mental health and substance use disorders in Aboriginal populations. In addition, Seeking Safety was highlighted as a well-studied model with most populations, resulting in healing. The provided recommendations seek to improve the treatment and healing of Aboriginal peoples presenting with intergenerational trauma and addiction. Other recommendations include the input of qualitative and quantitative research as well as studies encouraging Aboriginal peoples to explore treatments that could specifically enhance health in their respective communities.
doi:10.1186/s12954-015-0046-1
PMCID: PMC4445297  PMID: 25989833
PTSD; Substance abuse; Intergenerational trauma; Historical trauma; Two-Eyed seeing; Seeking safety; Traditional healing practices; Residential school; Healing; Aboriginal care
14.  Mortality in an Aboriginal Medical Service (Redfern) cohort 
Background
Published estimates of Aboriginal mortality and life expectancy (LE) for the eastern Australian states are derived from demographic modelling techniques to estimate the population and extent of under-recording of Aboriginality in death registration. No reliable empirical information on Aboriginal mortality and LE exists for New South Wales (NSW), the most populous Australian state in which 29% of Aboriginal people reside.
This paper estimates mortality and LE in a large, mainly metropolitan cohort of Aboriginal clients from the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) Redfern, Sydney, NSW.
Methods
Identifying information from patient records accrued by the AMS Redfern since 1980 of definitely Aboriginal clients, without distinction between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (n=24,035), was extracted and linked to the National Death Index (NDI) at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Age-specific mortality rates and LEs for each sex were estimated using the AMS patient population as the denominator, discounted for deaths. Directly age-standardised mortality and LEs were estimated for 1995–1999, 2000–2004 and 2005–2009, along with 95% confidence intervals. Comparisons were made with other estimates of Aboriginal mortality and LE and with the total Australian population.
Results
Mortality declined in the AMS Redfern cohort over 1995–2009, and the decline occurred mostly in the ≤44 year age range. Male LE at birth was estimated to be 64.4 years (95%CI:62.6-66.1) in 1995–1999, 65.6 years (95%CI:64.1-67.1) in 2000–2004, and 67.6 years (95%CI:65.9-69.2) for 2005–2009. In females, these LE estimates were 69.6 (95%CI:68.0-71.2), 71.1 (95%CI:69.9-72.4), and 71.4 (95%CI:70.0-72.8) years. LE in the AMS cohort was 11 years lower for males and 12 years lower for females than corresponding all-Australia LEs for the same periods. These were similar to estimates for Australian Aboriginal people overall for the same period by the Aboriginal Burden of Disease for 2009, using the General Growth Balance (GGB) model approach, and by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for 2005–2007. LE in the AMS cohort was somewhat lower than these estimates for NSW Aboriginal people, and higher than ABS 2005–2007 estimates for Aboriginal people from Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia.
Conclusions
The AMS Redfern cohort has provided the first empirically based estimates of mortality and LE trends in a large sample of Aboriginal people from NSW.
doi:10.1186/1478-7954-11-2
PMCID: PMC3602118  PMID: 23391275
15.  The perspectives of Aboriginal patients and their health care providers on improving the quality of hemodialysis services: A qualitative study 
Chronic kidney disease has a higher prevalence in Indigenous populations globally. The incidence of end-stage kidney disease in Australian Aboriginal people is eight times higher than non-Aboriginal Australians. Providing services to rural and remote Aboriginal people with chronic disease is challenging because of access and cultural differences. This study aims to describe and analyze the perspectives of Aboriginal patients' and health care providers' experience of renal services, to inform service improvement for rural Aboriginal hemodialysis patients. We conducted a thematic analysis of interviews with Aboriginal patients (n = 18) receiving hemodialysis in rural Australia and health care providers involved in their care (n = 29). An overarching theme of avoiding the “costly” crisis encompassed four subthemes: (1) Engaging patients earlier (prevent late diagnosis, slow disease progression); (2) flexible family-focused care (early engagement of family, flexibility to facilitate family and cultural obligations); (3) managing fear of mainstream services (originating in family dialysis experiences and previous racism when engaging with government organizations); (4) service provision shaped by culture (increased home dialysis, Aboriginal support and Aboriginal-led cultural education). Patients and health care providers believe service redesign is required to meet the needs of Aboriginal hemodialysis patients. Participants identified early screening and improving the relationship of Aboriginal people with health systems would reduce crisis entry to hemodialysis. These strategies alongside improving the cultural competence of staff would reduce patients' fear of mainstream services, decrease the current emotional and family costs of care, and increase efficiency of health expenditure on a challenging and increasingly unsustainable treatment system.
doi:10.1111/hdi.12201
PMCID: PMC4309474  PMID: 25056441
Cultural competence; cultural awareness training; early screening; home hemodialysis
16.  Not just bricks and mortar: planning hospital cancer services for Aboriginal people 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:62.
Background
Aboriginal people in Australia experience higher mortality from cancer compared with non-Aboriginal Australians, despite an overall lower incidence. A notable contributor to this disparity is that many Aboriginal people do not take up or continue with cancer treatment which almost always occurs within major hospitals.
Thirty in-depth interviews with urban, rural and remote Aboriginal people affected by cancer were conducted between March 2006 and September 2007. Interviews explored participants' beliefs about cancer and experiences of cancer care and were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two researchers. NVivo7 software was used to assist data management and analysis. Information from interviews relevant to hospital services including and building design was extracted.
Findings
Relationships and respect emerged as crucial considerations of participants although many aspects of the hospital environment were seen as influencing the delivery of care. Five themes describing concerns about the hospital environment emerged: (i) being alone and lost in a big, alien and inflexible system; (ii) failure of open communication, delays and inefficiency in the system; (iii) practicalities: costs, transportation, community and family responsibilities; (iv) the need for Aboriginal support persons; and (v) connection to the community.
Conclusions
Design considerations and were identified but more important than the building itself was the critical need to build trust in health services. Promotion of cultural safety, support for Aboriginal family structures and respecting the importance of place and community to Aboriginal patients are crucial in improving cancer outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-62
PMCID: PMC3068108  PMID: 21401923
17.  ‘Doing the hard yards’: carer and provider focus group perspectives of accessing Aboriginal childhood disability services 
Background
Despite a high prevalence of disability, Aboriginal Australians access disability services in Australia less than non-Aboriginal Australians with a disability. The needs of Aboriginal children with disability are particularly poorly understood. They can endure long delays in treatment which can impact adversely on development. This study sought to ascertain the factors involved in accessing services and support for Aboriginal children with a disability.
Methods
Using the focus group method, two community forums, one for health and service providers and one for carers of Aboriginal children with a disability, were held at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) in the Sydney, metropolitan area of New South Wales, Australia. Framework analysis was applied to qualitative data to elucidate key issues relevant to the dimensions of access framework. Independent coding consistency checks were performed and consensus of analysis verified by the entire research team, several of whom represented the local Aboriginal community.
Results
Seventeen health and social service providers representing local area government and non-government-funded health and social service organisations and five carers participated in two separate forums between September and October 2011. Lack of awareness of services and inadequate availability were prominent concerns in both groups despite geographic proximity to a major metropolitan area with significant health infrastructure. Carers noted racism, insufficient or non-existent services, and the need for an enhanced role of ACCHSs and AHWs in disability support services. Providers highlighted logistical barriers and cultural and historical issues that impacted on the effectiveness of mainstream services for Aboriginal people.
Conclusions
Despite dedicated disability services in an urban community, geographic proximity does not mitigate lack of awareness and availability of support. This paper has enumerated a number of considerations to address provision of disability services in an urban Australian Aboriginal community including building expertise and specialist capacity within Aboriginal Health Worker positions and services.
Increasing awareness of services, facilitating linkages and referrals, eliminating complexities to accessing support, and working with families and Aboriginal community organisations within a framework of resilience and empowerment to ensure a relevant and acceptable model are necessary steps to improving support and care for Aboriginal children with a disability.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-326
PMCID: PMC3765087  PMID: 23958272
Childhood disability; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; Early intervention; Focus groups
18.  Aboriginal Health Worker perceptions of oral health: a qualitative study in Perth, Western Australia 
Background
Improving oral health for Aboriginal Australians has been slow. Despite dental disease being largely preventable, Aboriginal Australians have worse periodontal disease, more decayed teeth and untreated dental caries than other Australians. Reasons for this are complex and risk factors include broader social and historic determinants such as marginalisation and discrimination that impact on Aboriginal people making optimum choices about oral health. This paper presents findings from a qualitative study conducted in the Perth metropolitan area investigating Aboriginal Health Workers’ (AHWs) perceptions of barriers and enablers to oral health for Aboriginal people.
Methods
Following extensive consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders, researchers conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups across 13 sites to investigate AHWs’ perceptions of barriers and enablers to oral health based on professional and personal experience. Responses from 35 AHWs were analysed independently by two researchers to identify themes that they compared, discussed, revised and organised under key themes. These were summarised and interrogated for similarities and differences with evidence in the literature.
Results
Key findings indicated that broader structural and social factors informed oral health choices. Perceptions of barriers included cost of services and healthy diets on limited budgets, attending services for pain not prevention, insufficient education about oral health and preventing disease, public dental services not meeting demand, and blame and discrimination from some health providers. Suggested improvements included oral health education, delivering flexible services respectful of Aboriginal people, oral health services for 0–4 year olds and role modelling of oral health across generations.
Conclusion
Reviewing current models of oral health education and service delivery is needed to reduce oral health disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Shifting the discourse from blaming Aboriginal people for their poor oral health to addressing structural factors impacting on optimum oral health choices is important. This includes Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal stakeholders working together to develop and implement policies and practices that are respectful, well-resourced and improve oral health outcomes.
doi:10.1186/s12939-016-0299-7
PMCID: PMC4709938  PMID: 26754073
Australia; Aboriginal; Oral health; Inequity; Racism
19.  Development and validation of the Australian Aboriginal racial identity and self-esteem survey for 8–12 year old children (IRISE_C) 
Introduction
In Australia, there is little empirical research of the racial identity of Indigenous children and youth as the majority of the current literature focuses on adults. Furthermore, there are no instruments developed with cultural appropriateness when exploring the identity and self-esteem of the Australian Aboriginal population, especially children. The IRISE_C (Racial Identity and Self-Esteem of children) inventory was developed to explore the elements of racial identity and self-esteem of urban, rural and regional Aboriginal children. This paper describes the development and validation of the IRISE_C instrument with over 250 Aboriginal children aged 8 to 12 years.
Methods
A pilot of the IRISE C instrument was combined with individual interviews and was undertaken with 35 urban Aboriginal children aged 8–12 years. An exploratory factor analysis was performed to refine the survey and reduce redundant items in readiness for the main study. In the main study, the IRISE C was employed to 229 Aboriginal children aged 6–13 years across three sites (rural, regional and urban) in Western Australia. An exploratory factor analysis using Principal axis factoring was used to assess the fit of items and survey structure. A confirmatory factor analysis was then employed using LISREL (diagonally weighted least squares) to assess factor structures across domains. Internal consistency and reliability of subscales were assessed using Cronbach’s co-efficient alpha.
Results
The pilot testing identified two key concepts - children’s knowledge of issues related to their racial identity, and the importance, or salience, that they attach to these issues. In the main study, factor analyses showed two clear factors relating to: Aboriginal culture and traditions; and a sense of belonging to an Aboriginal community. Principal Axis Factoring of the Knowledge items supported a 2-factor solution, which explained 38.7 % of variance. Factor One (Aboriginal culture) had a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.835; Factor 2 (racial identity) had a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.800, thus demonstrating high internal reliability of the scales.
Conclusion
The IRISE_C has been shown to be a valid instrument useful of exploring the development of racial identity of Australian Aboriginal children across the 8–12 year old age range and across urban, rural and regional geographical locations.
doi:10.1186/s12939-015-0234-3
PMCID: PMC4619330  PMID: 26499852
Instrument development; Racial identity; Self-esteem; Australian Aboriginal children
20.  The Lililwan Project: study protocol for a population-based active case ascertainment study of the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in remote Australian Aboriginal communities 
BMJ Open  2012;2(3):e000968.
Introduction
Anecdotal reports suggest that high-risk drinking in pregnancy is common in some remote Australian communities. Alcohol is teratogenic and may cause a range of lifelong conditions termed ‘fetal alcohol spectrum disorders’ (FASD). Australia has few diagnostic services for FASD, and prevalence of these neurodevelopmental disorders remains unknown. In 2009, Aboriginal leaders in the remote Fitzroy Valley in North Western Australia identified FASD as a community priority and initiated the Lililwani Project in partnership with leading research organisations. This project will establish the prevalence of FASD and other health and developmental problems in school-aged children residing in the Fitzroy Valley, providing data to inform FASD prevention and management.
Methods and analysis
This is a population-based active case ascertainment study of all children born in 2002 and 2003 and residing in the Fitzroy Valley. Participants will be identified from the Fitzroy Valley Population Project and Communicare databases. Parents/carers will be interviewed using a standardised diagnostic questionnaire modified for local language and cultural requirements to determine the demographics, antenatal exposures, birth outcomes, education and psychosocial status of each child. A comprehensive interdisciplinary health and neurodevelopmental assessment will be performed using tests and operational definitions adapted for the local context. Internationally recognised diagnostic criteria will be applied to determine FASD prevalence. Relationships between pregnancy exposures and early life trauma, neurodevelopmental, health and education outcomes will be evaluated using regression analysis. Results will be reported according to STROBE guidelines for observational studies.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethics approval has been granted by the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee, the Western Australian Aboriginal Health Information and Ethics Committee, the Western Australian Country Health Service Board Research Ethics Committee and the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Planning Forum Research Sub-committee. Results will be disseminated widely through peer-reviewed manuscripts, reports, conference presentations and the media.
Article summary
Article focus
To establish the need for prevalence data on FASD in remote Australia and for improved awareness and diagnosis of FASD.
To describe the protocol used in Australia's first population-based study of FASD prevalence using active case ascertainment in remote Aboriginal communities.
To demonstrate a process of community consultation and clinical research that respects the priorities, language and culture of Aboriginal communities.
Key messages
Accurate prevalence data on FASD and other health and developmental outcomes will inform prevention, service provision and policy in child health, education and justice.
This research will provide immediate and direct benefits to participants and the broader community, including a feasible and transferable model of FASD diagnosis and a model for culturally responsive research with Aboriginal communities.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The study was a response to a local community initiative and followed extensive community consultation.
The population-based active method of case ascertainment will provide the most accurate prevalence data for diagnoses on the entire FASD spectrum and other health and developmental outcomes.
Standardised and locally developed clinical assessments whose interpretation is less biased by culture and language have been chosen carefully with cross-cultural considerations in mind and are considered valid for the purpose of the study.
There are no normative data for Aboriginal children for the assessments used in the study.
Study findings may not generalise to all children born in the Fitzroy Valley following the introduction of community-led alcohol restrictions in 2007, after which time FASD prevalence may have decreased.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000968
PMCID: PMC3346942  PMID: 22556161
21.  Medication reviews are useful, but the model needs to be changed: Perspectives of Aboriginal Health Service health professionals on Home Medicines Reviews 
Background
The Australian Home Medicines Review (HMR) program consists of a pharmacist reviewing a patient’s medicines at his or her home and reporting findings to the patient’s general practitioner (GP) to assist optimisation of medicine management. Previous research has shown that the complex HMR program rules impede access to the HMR program by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.
This study explores the attitudes and perceptions of health professional employees working within Aboriginal Health Services (AHSs) towards the HMR program. The goal was to identify how the HMR program might better address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Methods
Thirty-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with health professionals at 11 diverse AHSs. Fourteen Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs), five nurses, one manager and 11 GPs were interviewed. Interviews were recorded, de-identified and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded and analysed for themes that recurred throughout the interviews.
Results
This study identified a number of barriers to provision of HMRs specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. These included paternalistic attitudes of health professionals to clients, heightened protection of the GP-client relationship, lack of AHS-pharmacist relationships, need for more culturally responsive pharmacists and the lack of recognition of the AHS’s role in implementation of culturally effective HMRs.
Changes to the HMR model, which make it more effective and culturally appropriate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, were recommended. Improved relationships between GPs and pharmacists, between pharmacists and AHSs, and between pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients were identified as key to increasing HMRs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Conclusions
Aboriginal Health Services are well-placed to be the promoters, organisers, facilitators and implementers of health programs, such as HMR, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients.
Embedding a pharmacist within an AHS addresses many of the barriers to HMRs. It ensures pharmacists are culturally mentored and that they build strong relationships with health professionals and clients.
The HMR program rules need to be changed significantly if medication review is to be an effective tool for improving medication safety and adherence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-1029-3
PMCID: PMC4566399  PMID: 26357987
22.  “People like numbers”: a descriptive study of cognitive assessment methods in clinical practice for Aboriginal Australians in the Northern Territory 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:42.
Background
Achieving culturally fair assessments of cognitive functioning for Aboriginal people is difficult due to a scarcity of appropriately validated tools for use with this group. As a result, some Aboriginal people with cognitive impairments may lack fair and equitable access to services. The objective of this study was to examine current clinical practice in the Northern Territory regarding cognitive assessment for Aboriginal people thereby providing some guidance for clinicians new to this practice setting.
Method
Qualitative enquiry was used to describe practice context, reasons for assessment, and current practices in assessing cognition for Aboriginal Australians. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 clinicians working with Aboriginal clients in central and northern Australia. Results pertaining to assessment methods are reported.
Results
A range of standardised tests were utilised with little consistency across clinical practice. Nevertheless, it was recognised that such tests bear severe limitations, requiring some modification and significant caution in their interpretation. Clinicians relied heavily on informal assessment or observations, contextual information and clinical judgement.
Conclusions
Cognitive tests developed specifically for Aboriginal people are urgently needed. In the absence of appropriate, validated tests, clinicians have relied on and modified a range of standardised and informal assessments, whilst recognising the severe limitations of these. Past clinical training has not prepared clinicians adequately for assessing Aboriginal clients, and experience and clinical judgment were considered crucial for fair interpretation of test scores. Interpretation guidelines may assist inexperienced clinicians to consider whether they are achieving fair assessments of cognition for Aboriginal clients.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-42
PMCID: PMC3598474  PMID: 23368850
Cognition; Assessment; Cross-cultural; Testing; Indigenous; Aboriginal
23.  Estimates of cancer incidence, mortality and survival in aboriginal people from NSW, Australia 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:168.
Background
Aboriginal status has been unreliably and incompletely recorded in health and vital registration data collections for the most populous areas of Australia, including NSW where 29% of Australian Aboriginal people reside. This paper reports an assessment of Aboriginal status recording in NSW cancer registrations and estimates incidence, mortality and survival from cancer in NSW Aboriginal people using multiple imputation of missing Aboriginal status in NSW Central Cancer Registry (CCR) records.
Methods
Logistic regression modelling and multiple imputation were used to assign Aboriginal status to those records of cancer diagnosed from 1999 to 2008 with missing Aboriginality (affecting 12-18% of NSW cancers registered in this period). Estimates of incidence, mortality and survival from cancer in NSW Aboriginal people were compared with the NSW total population, as standardised incidence and mortality ratios, and with the non-Aboriginal population.
Results
Following imputation, 146 (12.2%) extra cancers in Aboriginal males and 140 (12.5%) in Aboriginal females were found for 1999-2007. Mean annual cancer incidence in NSW Aboriginal people was estimated to be 660 per 100,000 and 462 per 100,000, 9% and 6% higher than all NSW males and females respectively. Mean annual cancer mortality in NSW Aboriginal people was estimated to be 373 per 100,000 in males and 240 per 100,000 in females, 68% and 73% higher than for all NSW males and females respectively. Despite similar incidence of localised cancer, mortality from localised cancer in Aboriginal people is significantly higher than in non-Aboriginal people, as is mortality from cancers with regional, distant and unknown degree of spread at diagnosis. Cancer survival in Aboriginal people is significantly lower: 51% of males and 43% of females had died of the cancer by 5 years following diagnosis, compared to 36% and 33% of non-Aboriginal males and females respectively.
Conclusion
The present study is the first to produce valid and reliable estimates of cancer incidence, survival and mortality in Australian Aboriginal people from NSW. Despite somewhat higher cancer incidence in Aboriginal than in non-Aboriginal people, substantially higher mortality and lower survival in Aboriginal people is only partly explained by more advanced cancer at diagnosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-168
PMCID: PMC3520119  PMID: 22559220
24.  Aboriginal Health Workers experience multilevel barriers to quitting smoking: a qualitative study 
Introduction
Long-term measures to reduce tobacco consumption in Australia have had differential effects in the population. The prevalence of smoking in Aboriginal peoples is currently more than double that of the non-Aboriginal population. Aboriginal Health Workers are responsible for providing primary health care to Aboriginal clients including smoking cessation programs. However, Aboriginal Health Workers are frequently smokers themselves, and their smoking undermines the smoking cessation services they deliver to Aboriginal clients. An understanding of the barriers to quitting smoking experienced by Aboriginal Health Workers is needed to design culturally relevant smoking cessation programs. Once smoking is reduced in Aboriginal Health Workers, they may then be able to support Aboriginal clients to quit smoking.
Methods
We undertook a fundamental qualitative description study underpinned by social ecological theory. The research was participatory, and academic researchers worked in partnership with personnel from the local Aboriginal health council. The barriers Aboriginal Health Workers experience in relation to quitting smoking were explored in 34 semi-structured interviews (with 23 Aboriginal Health Workers and 11 other health staff) and 3 focus groups (n = 17 participants) with key informants. Content analysis was performed on transcribed text and interview notes.
Results
Aboriginal Health Workers spoke of burdensome stress and grief which made them unable to prioritise quitting smoking. They lacked knowledge about quitting and access to culturally relevant quitting resources. Interpersonal obstacles included a social pressure to smoke, social exclusion when quitting, and few role models. In many workplaces, smoking was part of organisational culture and there were challenges to implementation of Smokefree policy. Respondents identified inadequate funding of tobacco programs and a lack of Smokefree public spaces as policy level barriers. The normalisation of smoking in Aboriginal society was an overarching challenge to quitting.
Conclusions
Aboriginal Health Workers experience multilevel barriers to quitting smoking that include personal, social, cultural and environmental factors. Multidimensional smoking cessation programs are needed that reduce the stress and burden for Aboriginal Health Workers; provide access to culturally relevant quitting resources; and address the prevailing normalisation of smoking in the family, workplace and community.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-27
PMCID: PMC3477099  PMID: 22621767
Aboriginal people, Australia; Health care professionals; Tobacco and health; Smoking cessation; Qualitative research
25.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
Background
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
Conclusions
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831

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