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1.  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 Ancillary and unpublished references were recommended by members of the SOGC Aboriginal Health Issues Committee and the panel of expert reviewers.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
2.  A research review: exploring the health of Canada's Aboriginal youth 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2012;71:10.3402/ijch.v71i0.18497.
Objective
To compare the current state of health research on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth in Canada.
Design
A search of published academic literature on Canadian Aboriginal youth health, including a comprehensive review of both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal youth research, was conducted using MEDLINE and summarized.
Methodology
A MEDLINE search was conducted for articles published over a 10-year period (2000–2010). The search was limited to research articles pertaining to Canadian youth, using various synonyms for “Canada,” “youth,” and “Aboriginal.” Each article was coded according to 4 broad categories: Aboriginal identity, geographic location, research topic (health determinants, health status, health care), and the 12 key determinants of health proposed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
Results
Of the 117 articles reviewed, only 34 pertained to Aboriginal youth, while the remaining 83 pertained to non-Aboriginal youth. The results revealed major discrepancies within the current body of research with respect to the geographic representation of Aboriginal youth, with several provinces missing from the literature, including the northern territories. Furthermore, the current research is not reflective of the demographic composition of Aboriginal youth, with an under-representation of Métis and urban Aboriginal youth. Health status of Aboriginal youth has received the most attention, appearing in 79% of the studies reviewed compared with 57% of the non-Aboriginal studies. The number of studies that focus on health determinants and health care is comparable for both groups, with the former accounting for 62 and 64% and the latter comprising 26 and 19% of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal studies, respectively. However, this review reveals several differences with respect to specific focus on health determinants between the two populations. In non-Aboriginal youth studies, all the 12 key determinants of health of PHAC are explored, whereas in Aboriginal youth studies the health profile remains incomplete and several key determinants and health indicators are neglected.
Conclusions
The current studies are not reflective of the demographic and geographic profiles of Aboriginal youth in Canada, and they have also failed to provide a comprehensive examination of their unique health needs and concerns compared with studies on non-Aboriginal youth.
doi:10.3402/ijch.v71i0.18497
PMCID: PMC3427595  PMID: 22973569
Aboriginal people; health status; determinants of health; youth
3.  Ethnic and Regional Differences in Prevalence and Correlates of Chronic Diseases and Risk Factors in Northern Canada 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2009;7(1):A13.
Introduction
We investigated ethnic and geographic variations in major chronic diseases and risk factors in northern Canada, an area that is undergoing rapid changes in its social, cultural, and physical environments.
Methods
Self-report data were obtained from the population-based Canadian Community Health Survey in 2000-2001 and 2005-2006 for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal respondents from the 3 regions of northern Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Crude prevalence estimates, adjusted odds ratios (AORs), and confidence intervals were calculated for multiple chronic diseases and risk factors.
Results
The percentage of Aboriginal respondents who reported having any chronic health condition increased between the 2 cycles of data collection, but did not change for non-Aboriginal respondents. AORs for heart disease, arthritis, and asthma varied by ethnicity or region. AORs for overweight, obesity, daily smoking, regular and binge drinking, and infrequent physical/leisure activity were also substantially different for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal respondents or among respondents from the 3 northern regions.
Conclusion
The changing profile of health in northern Canada suggests a need for action on health policy about the delivery of community-based primary prevention interventions and further research about the determinants of health and health care use.
PMCID: PMC2811508  PMID: 20040228
4.  The prevalence of human papillomavirus and its impact on cervical dysplasia in Northern Canada 
Introduction
Certain types of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are sexually transmitted and highly associated with development of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer but the distribution of HPV infection in the North, particularly amongst First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, is little known. The purposes of the study are to identify the prevalence of type-specific HPV infections and the association of different HPV types with cervical dysplasia among women in Northern Canada.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study with attendants of the routine or scheduled Pap testing program in the Northwest Territories (NWT), Nunavut, Labrador and Yukon, Canada. Approximately half of each sample was used for Pap test and the remaining was used for HPV genotyping using a Luminex-based method. Pap test results, HPV types, and demographic information were linked for analyses.
Results
Results from 14,598 specimens showed that HPV infection was approximately 50% higher among the Aboriginal than the non-Aboriginal population (27.6% vs. 18.5%). Although the most common HPV type detected was HPV 16 across region, the prevalence of other high risk HPV types was different. The age-specific HPV prevalence among Aboriginal showed a ‘U’ shape which contrasted to non-Aboriginal. The association of HPV infection with cervical dysplasia was similar in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations.
Conclusions
The HPV prevalence was higher in Northern Canada than in other Areas in Canada. The prevalence showed a higher rate of other high risk HPV infections but no difference of HPV 16/18 infections among Aboriginal in comparison with non-Aboriginal women. This study provides baseline information on HPV prevalence that may assist in surveillance and evaluation systems to track and assess HPV vaccine programs.
doi:10.1186/1750-9378-8-25
PMCID: PMC3728116  PMID: 23816397
Human papillomavirus; Prevalence; Pap abnormality; Northern region
5.  Access to health care among status Aboriginal people with chronic kidney disease 
Background
Ethnic disparities in access to health care and health outcomes are well documented. It is unclear whether similar differences exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people with chronic kidney disease in Canada. We determined whether access to care differed between status Aboriginal people (Aboriginal people registered under the federal Indian Act) and non-Aboriginal people with chronic kidney disease.
Methods
We identified 106 511 non-Aboriginal and 1182 Aboriginal patients with chronic kidney disease (estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2). We compared outcomes, including hospital admissions, that may have been preventable with appropriate outpatient care (ambulatory-care–sensitive conditions) as well as use of specialist services, including visits to nephrologists and general internists.
Results
Aboriginal people were almost twice as likely as non-Aboriginal people to be admitted to hospital for an ambulatory-care–sensitive condition (rate ratio 1.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.46–2.13). Aboriginal people with severe chronic kidney disease (estimated glomerular filtration rate < 30 mL/min/1.73 m2) were 43% less likely than non-Aboriginal people with severe chronic kidney disease to visit a nephrologist (hazard ratio 0.57, 95% CI 0.39–0.83). There was no difference in the likelihood of visiting a general internist (hazard ratio 1.00, 95% CI 0.83–1.21).
Interpretation
Increased rates of hospital admissions for ambulatory-care–sensitive conditions and a reduced likelihood of nephrology visits suggest potential inequities in care among status Aboriginal people with chronic kidney disease. The extent to which this may contribute to the higher rate of kidney failure in this population requires further exploration.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.080063
PMCID: PMC2572655  PMID: 18981441
6.  Prevalence of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations: A systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies 
BACKGROUND:
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have considerable potential for inequities in diagnosis and treatment, thereby affecting vulnerable groups.
OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate differences in asthma and COPD prevalence between adult Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations.
METHODS:
MEDLINE, EMBASE, specialized databases and the grey literature up to October 2011 were searched to identify epidemiological studies comparing asthma and COPD prevalence between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adult populations. Prevalence ORs (PORs) and 95% CIs were calculated in a random-effects meta-analysis.
RESULTS:
Of 132 studies, eight contained relevant data. Aboriginal populations included Native Americans, Canadian Aboriginals, Australian Aboriginals and New Zealand Maori. Overall, Aboriginals were more likely to report having asthma than non-Aboriginals (POR 1.41 [95% CI 1.23 to 1.60]), particularly among Canadian Aboriginals (POR 1.80 [95% CI 1.68 to 1.93]), Native Americans (POR 1.41 [95% CI 1.13 to 1.76]) and Maori (POR 1.64 [95% CI 1.40 to 1.91]). Australian Aboriginals were less likely to report asthma (POR 0.49 [95% CI 0.28 to 0.86]). Sex differences in asthma prevalence between Aboriginals and their non-Aboriginal counterparts were not identified. One study compared COPD prevalence between Native and non-Native Americans, with similar rates in both groups (POR 1.08 [95% CI 0.81 to 1.44]).
CONCLUSIONS:
Differences in asthma prevalence between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations exist in a variety of countries. Studies comparing COPD prevalence between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations are scarce. Further investigation is needed to identify and account for factors associated with respiratory health inequalities among Aboriginal peoples.
PMCID: PMC3603759  PMID: 23248798
Aboriginal; Asthma; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Epidemiology; Prevalence; Systematic review
7.  Aboriginal health. 
OBJECTIVE: To inform health care workers about the health status of Canada's native people. DATA SOURCES: A MEDLINE search for articles published from Jan. 1, 1989, to Nov. 31, 1995, with the use of subject headings "Eskimos" and "Indians, North American," excluding specific subject headings related to genetics and history. Case reports were excluded. Material was also identified from a review of standard references and bibliographies and from consultation with experts. STUDY SELECTION: Review and research articles containing original data concerning epidemiologic aspects of native health. Studies of Canadian populations were preferred, but population-based studies of US native peoples were included if limited Canadian information was available. DATA EXTRACTION: Information about target population, methods and conclusions was extracted from each study. RESULTS: Mortality and morbidity rates are higher in the native population than in the general Canadian population. The infant mortality rates averaged for the years 1986 to 1990 were 13.8 per 1000 live births among Indian infants, 16.3 per 1000 among Inuit infants, and only 7.3 per 1000 among all Canadian infants. Age-standardized all-cause mortality rates among residents of reserves averaged for the years 1979 to 1983 were 561.0 per 100,000 population among men and 334.6 per 100,000 among women, compared with 340.2 per 100,000 among all Canadian men and 173.4 per 100,000 among all Canadian women. Compared with the general Canadian population, specific native populations have an increased risk of death from alcoholism, homicide, suicide and pneumonia. Of the aboriginal population of Canada 15 years of age and older, 31% have been informed that they have a chronic health problem. Diabetes mellitus affects 6% of aboriginal adults, compared with 2% of all Canadian adults. Social problems identified by aboriginal people as a concern in their community include substance abuse, suicide, unemployment and family violence. Subgroups of aboriginal people are at a greater-than-normal risk of infectious diseases, injuries, respiratory diseases, nutritional problems (including obesity) and substance abuse. Initial data suggest that, compared with the general population, some subgroups of the native population have a lower incidence of heart disease and certain types of cancer. However, knowledge about contributing factors to the health status of aboriginal people is limited, since the literature generally does not assess confounding factors such as poverty. CONCLUSIONS: Canadian aboriginal people die earlier than their fellow Canadians, on average, and sustain a disproportionate share of the burden of physical disease and mental illness. However, few studies have assessed poverty as a confounding factor. Future research priorities in native health are best determined by native people themselves.
PMCID: PMC1334995  PMID: 8956834
8.  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
9.  Survivors of sexual abuse: clinical, lifestyle and reproductive consequences 
BACKGROUND: In recent years, an increase in the prevalence of sexual abuse of women has been reported in Canada and elsewhere. However, there are few empirical data on the extent of the problem in Canadian aboriginal populations. The authors investigated the presence of a reported history of sexual abuse and other health determinants in a sample of women attending a community health centre with a substantial aboriginal population. This allowed determination of whether reported sexual abuse and its associated demographic and health-related effects were different for aboriginal and non-aboriginal women. METHODS: A sample of 1696 women was selected from women attending a community health centre in a predominantly low-income inner-city area of Winnipeg for a cross-sectional survey designed to study the association between sexual behavior and cervical infections. The survey was conducted between November 1992 and March 1995 and involved a clinical examination, laboratory tests and an interviewer-administered questionnaire. A substudy was conducted among 1003 women who were asked 2 questions about sexual abuse. RESULTS: The overall response rate for the main study was 87%. Of the 1003 women who were asked the questions about sexual abuse, 843 (84.0%) responded. Among the respondents, 368 (43.6%) were aboriginal. Overall, 308 (36.5%) of the respondents reported having been sexually abused, 74.0% of the incidents having occurred during childhood. The prevalence was higher among aboriginal women than among non-aboriginal women (44.8% v. 30.1%, p < 0.001). Women who had been sexually abused were younger when they first had sexual intercourse, they had multiple partners, and they had a history of sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, non-aboriginal women who had been sexually abused were more likely than those who had not been abused to have been separated or divorced, unemployed and multiparous and to have used an intrauterine device rather than oral contraceptives. Aboriginal women who had been sexually abused were more likely than those who had not been abused to have been separated or divorced, unemployed and multiparous and to have used an intrauterine device rather than oral contraceptives. Aboriginal women who had been sexually abused were more likely than those who had not been abused to have had abnormal Papanicolaou smears. The proportion of smokers was higher among the abused women than among the non-abused women in both ethnic groups. INTERPRETATION: A history of sexual abuse was associated with other clinical, lifestyle and reproductive factors. This suggests that sexual abuse may be associated with subsequent health behaviors, beyond specific physical and psychosocial disorders. Aboriginal and non-aboriginal women who have suffered sexual abuse showed substantial differences in their subsequent health and health-related behaviours.
PMCID: PMC1229591  PMID: 9732710
10.  Association of breastfeeding with asthma in young Aboriginal children in Canada 
BACKGROUND:
Few studies have investigated the factors associated with asthma in young Aboriginal children.
OBJECTIVE:
To characterize the association of demographic, environmental and early life factors with asthma in young Aboriginal children in Canada.
METHODS:
The 2006 Aboriginal Children’s Survey was conducted among off-reserve Aboriginal children zero to six years of age to obtain information on Aboriginal children’s development and well-being. The prevalence of asthma in Aboriginal children was obtained from the parental report of asthma as diagnosed by a health care professional.
RESULTS:
The prevalence of reported asthma among off-reserve Aboriginal children zero to six years of age (n=14,170) was 9.4%. Asthma prevalence in both exclusively breastfed children (6.8%) and ever but not exclusively breastfed children (9.0%) was significantly lower than that in nonbreastfed children (11.0%). In the multiple logistic regression analysis, exclusive breastfeeding was protective of asthma compared with nonbreastfeeding (OR 0.59 [95% CI 0.44 to 0.78]). Older age groups, male sex, having two or more older siblings, low birth weight, day care attendance and ear infection were significant risk factors for asthma.
CONCLUSIONS:
The prevalence of asthma among young Aboriginal children zero to six years of age living off reserve was slightly lower than that reported for all other Canadian children. Breastfeeding, especially exclusively breastfeeding, was protective of asthma in Aboriginal children, which is consistent with what has been observed in non-Aboriginal children in Canada. Public health interventions intended for reducing asthma incidence in young Aboriginal children should include breastfeeding promotion programs.
PMCID: PMC3603760  PMID: 23248799
Aboriginal; Asthma; Breastfeeding; Children; Prevalence
11.  Tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve: results from the Youth Smoking Survey 
Background
Despite the high prevalence of smoking among Aboriginal youth, there is a paucity of research related to tobacco use and other risk behaviours among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve in Canada. We used data from the national Youth Smoking Survey to characterize non-traditional tobacco use, exposure to second-hand smoke, and alcohol and drug use among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve. We examined whether these youth were at increased health risk compared with non-Aboriginal youth.
Methods
We examined cigarette smoking behaviour, use of other tobacco products, use of alcohol and other drugs, and exposure to second-hand smoke among 2620 Aboriginal youth living off-reserve and 26 223 non-Aboriginal youth in grades 9 to 12 who participated in the 2008/09 Youth Smoking Survey.
Results
The prevalence of current smoking among the Aboriginal youth was more than double that among non-Aboriginal youth (24.9% v. 10.4%). Aboriginal youth also had a higher prevalence of regular exposure to second-hand smoke at home (37.3% v. 19.7%) and in cars (51.0% v. 30.3%). Aboriginal youth were more likely than non-Aboriginal youth to be current smokers, to be regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, to have tried marijuana and other illicit drugs, and to engage in binge drinking. They were less likely than non-Aboriginal youth to have tried to quit smoking.
Interpretation
Current national estimates of smoking, and alcohol and illicit drug use among youth underestimate the prevalence of these behaviours among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve. Our findings highlight the need for culturally appropriate prevention and cessation policies and programs for this at-risk population.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.101913
PMCID: PMC3091934  PMID: 21555383
12.  Disparities experienced by Aboriginal compared to non-Aboriginal metropolitan Western Australians in receiving coronary angiography following acute ischaemic heart disease: the impact of age and comorbidities 
Introduction
Aboriginal Australians have a substantially higher frequency of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) events than their non-Aboriginal counterparts, together with a higher prevalence of comorbidities. The pattern of health service provision for IHD suggests inequitable delivery of important diagnostic procedures. Published data on disparities in IHD management among Aboriginal Australians are conflicting, and the role of comorbidities has not been adequately delineated. We compared the profiles of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients in the metropolitan area undergoing emergency IHD admissions at Western Australian metropolitan hospitals, and investigated the determinants of receiving coronary angiography.
Methods
Person-linked administrative hospital and mortality records were used to identify 28-day survivors of IHD emergency admission events (n =20,816) commencing at metropolitan hospitals in 2005–09. The outcome measure was receipt of angiography. The Aboriginal to non-Aboriginal risk ratio (RR) was estimated from a multivariable Poisson log-linear regression model with allowance for multiple IHD events in individuals. The subgroup of myocardial infarction (MI) events was modelled separately.
Results
Compared with their non-Aboriginal counterparts, Aboriginal IHD patients were younger and more likely to have comorbidities. In the age- and sex-adjusted model, Aboriginal patients were less likely than others to receive angiography (RRIHD 0.77, 95% CI 0.72-0.83; RRMI 0.81, 95% CI 0.75-0.87) but in the full multivariable model this disparity was accounted for by comorbidities as well as IHD category and MI subtype, and private health insurance (RRIHD 0.95, 95% CI 0.89-1.01; RRMI 0.94, 95% CI 0.88-1.01). When stratified by age groups, this disparity was not significant in the 25–54 year age group (RRMI 0.95, 95% CI 0.88-1.02) but was significant in the 55–84 year age group (RRMI 0.88, 95% CI 0.77-0.99).
Conclusions
The disproportionate under-management of older Aboriginal IHD patients is of particular concern. Regardless of age, the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians in receiving angiography for acute IHD in a metropolitan setting is mediated substantially by comorbidities. This constellation of health problems is a ‘double-whammy’ for Aboriginal people, predisposing them to IHD and also adversely impacting on their receipt of angiography. Further research should investigate how older age and comorbidities influence clinical decision making in this context.
doi:10.1186/s12939-014-0093-3
PMCID: PMC4207898  PMID: 25331586
Aboriginal; Oceanic ancestry group; Australia; Ischaemic heart disease; Myocardial infarction; Healthcare Disparities; Hospitals; urban; Coronary angiography; Age factors; Comorbidity
13.  Mortality of Urban Aboriginal Adults in Canada, 1991–2001* *This article is part of a joint publication initiative between Preventing Chronic Disease and Chronic Diseases in Canada. Preventing Chronic Disease is the secondary publisher, while Chronic Diseases in Canada is the primary publisher.  
Preventing Chronic Disease  2010;8(1):A06.
Objective
To compare mortality patterns for urban Aboriginal adults with those of urban non-Aboriginal adults.
Methods
Using the 1991–2001 Canadian census mortality follow-up study, our study tracked mortality to December 31, 2001, among a 15% sample of adults, including 16 300 Aboriginal and 2 062 700 non-Aboriginal persons residing in urban areas on June 4, 1991. The Aboriginal population was defined by ethnic origin (ancestry), Registered Indian status and/or membership in an Indian band or First Nation, since the 1991 census did not collect information on Aboriginal identity.
Results
Compared to urban non-Aboriginal men and women, remaining life expectancy at age 25 years was 4.7 years and 6.5 years shorter for urban Aboriginal men and women, respectively. Mortality rate ratios for urban Aboriginal men and women were particularly elevated for alcohol-related deaths, motor vehicle accidents and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS. For most causes of death, urban Aboriginal adults had higher mortality rates compared to other urban residents. Socio-economic status played an important role in explaining these disparities.
Conclusion
Results from this study help fill a data gap on mortality information of urban Aboriginal people of Canada.
Keywords
Aboriginal people, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, North American Indians, age-standardized mortality rates, mortality rate, life expectancy
PMCID: PMC3044017  PMID: 21159218
14.  Prevalence of asthma and risk factors for asthma-like symptoms in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in the northern territories of Canada 
BACKGROUND:
Few studies have investigated the prevalence and risk factors of asthma in Canadian Aboriginal children.
OBJECTIVE:
To determine the prevalence of asthma and asthma-like symptoms, as well as the risk factors for asthma-like symptoms, in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children living in the northern territories of Canada.
METHODS:
Data on 2404 children, aged between 0 and 11 years, who participated in the North component of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth were used in the present study. A child was considered to have an asthma-like symptom if there was a report of ever having had asthma, asthma attacks or wheeze in the past 12 months.
RESULTS:
After excluding 59 children with missing information about race, 1399 children (59.7%) were of Aboriginal ancestry. The prevalence of asthma was significantly lower (P<0.05) in Aboriginal children (5.7%) than non-Aboriginal children (10.0%), while the prevalence of wheeze was similar between Aboriginal (15.0%) and non-Aboriginal (14.5%) children. In Aboriginal children, infants and toddlers had a significantly greater prevalence of asthma-like symptoms (30.0%) than preschool-aged children (21.5%) and school-aged children (11.5%). Childhood allergy and a mother’s daily smoking habit were significant risk factors for asthma-like symptoms in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. In addition, infants and toddlers were at increased risk of asthma-like symptoms in Aboriginal children. In analyses restricted to specific outcomes, a mother’s daily smoking habit was a significant risk factor for current wheeze in Aboriginal children and for ever having had asthma in non-Aboriginal children.
CONCLUSIONS:
Asthma prevalence appears to be lower in Aboriginal children than in non-Aboriginal children. The association between daily maternal smoking and asthma-like symptoms, which has been mainly reported for children living in urban areas, was observed in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children living in northern and remote communities in Canada.
PMCID: PMC2677938  PMID: 18437256
Aboriginals; Asthma; Children; Remote area; Risk factors; Smoking
15.  Trend analysis of hospital admissions attributable to tobacco smoking, Northern Territory Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations, 1998 to 2009 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:545.
Background
Tobacco smoking is a well-recognised risk factor for many diseases [1]. This study assesses the extent of smoking-attributable hospitalisation in the Northern Territory (NT) Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations, and examines smoking-attributable hospitalisation trends for the years 1998/99 to 2008/09.
Methods
Hospital discharge data were used for the analysis. The proportion of conditions attributable to tobacco smoking was calculated using the aetiological fraction method. Age-adjusted smoking-attributable hospitalisation rates were calculated to describe the impact of tobacco smoking on the health of Territorians. A negative binominal regression model was applied to examine trends in smoking-attributable hospitalisations.
Results
Aboriginal Territorians were found to have higher rates of smoking-attributable hospitalisation, with Aboriginal males more than three times and Aboriginal females more than four times more likely to be hospitalised for smoking-attributable conditions than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. The age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for Aboriginal males increased by 31% and for Aboriginal females by 18% during the study period. There were more modest increases for NT non-Aboriginal males and females (5% and 17% respectively). The increase among Aboriginal males occurred up until 2005/06 followed by moderation in the trend. There were small reductions in smoking-attributable hospitalisation rates among all populations in younger age groups (less than 25 years).
Conclusions
Aboriginal Territorians experience much higher smoking-attributable hospitalisation rates than non-Aboriginal Territorians. The scale of the smoking burden and suggestion of recent moderation among Aboriginal men reinforce the importance of tobacco control interventions that are designed to meet the needs of the NT’s diverse population groups. Preventing smoking and increasing smoking cessation rates remain priorities for public health interventions in the NT.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-545
PMCID: PMC3447727  PMID: 22828156
Tobacco; Smoking; Attributable; Hospital admission; Condition; Aboriginal; Trend
16.  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
17.  Recent epidemiologic trends of diabetes mellitus among status Aboriginal adults 
Background:
Little is known about longitudinal trends in diabetes mellitus among Aboriginal people in Canada. We compared the incidence and prevalence of diabetes, and its impact on mortality, among status Aboriginal adults and adults in the general population between 1995 and 2007.
Methods:
We examined de-identified data from Alberta Health and Wellness administrative databases for status Aboriginal people (First Nations and Inuit people with treaty status) and members of the general public aged 20 years and older who received a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus from Apr. 1, 1995, to Mar. 31, 2007. We calculated the incidence and prevalence of diabetes and mortality rate ratios by sex and ethnicity in 2007. We examined the average relative changes per year for longitudinal trends.
Results:
The average relative change per year in the prevalence of diabetes showed a smaller increase over time in the Aboriginal population than in the general population (2.39 v. 4.09, p < 0.001). A similar finding was observed for the incidence of diabetes. In the Aboriginal population, we found that the increase in the average relative change per year was greater among men than among women (3.13 v. 1.88 for prevalence, p < 0.001; 2.60 v. 0.02 for incidence, p = 0.001). Mortality among people with diabetes decreased over time to a similar extent in both populations. Among people without diabetes, mortality decreased in the general population but was unchanged in the Aboriginal population (−1.92 v. 0.11, p = 0.04). Overall, mortality was higher in the Aboriginal population than in the general population regardless of diabetes status.
Interpretation:
The increases in the incidence and prevalence of diabetes over the study period appeared to be slower in the status Aboriginal population than in the general population in Alberta, although the overall rates were higher in the Aboriginal population. Mortality decreased among people with diabetes in both populations but was higher overall in the Aboriginal population regardless of diabetes status.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.101882
PMCID: PMC3168663  PMID: 21788417
18.  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
19.  Suicidal ideation among Métis adult men and women – associated risk and protective factors: findings from a nationally representative survey 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2012;71:10.3402/ijch.v71i0.18829.
Objective
To determine the prevalence of suicidal ideation among Métis men and women (20–59 years) and identify its associated risk and protective factors using data from the nationally representative Aboriginal Peoples Survey (2006).
Study design
Secondary analysis of previously collected data from a nationally representative cross-sectional survey.
Results
Across Canada, lifetime suicidal ideation was reported by an estimated 13.3% (or an estimated 34,517 individuals) of the total population of 20-to-59-year-old Métis. Of those who ideated, 46.2% reported a lifetime suicide attempt and 6.0% indicated that they had attempted suicide in the previous 12 months. Prevalence of suicidal ideation was higher among Métis men than in men who did not report Aboriginal identity in examined jurisdictions. Métis women were more likely to report suicidal ideation compared with Métis men (14.9% vs. 11.5%, respectively). Métis women and men had some common associated risk and protective factors such as major depressive episode, history of self-injury, perceived Aboriginal-specific community issues, divorced status, high mobility, self-rated thriving health, high self-esteem and positive coping ability. However, in Métis women alone, heavy frequent drinking, history of foster care experience and lower levels of social support were significant associated risk factors of suicidal ideation. Furthermore, a significant interaction was observed between social support and major depressive episode. Among Métis men, history of ever smoking was the sole unique associated risk factor.
Conclusion
The higher prevalence of suicidal ideation among Métis women compared with Métis men and the observed gender differences in associations with some associated risk and protective factors suggest the need for gender-responsive programming to address suicidal ideation.
doi:10.3402/ijch.v71i0.18829
PMCID: PMC3417687  PMID: 22901287
Métis; Aboriginal; Indigenous; suicidal thoughts; suicidality; suicidal behavior
20.  Rheumatic Diseases in China 
Introduction
Epidemiological studies of rheumatic diseases have been conducted during the past 20 years in China. The aim of this study was to clarify prevalence rates of common rheumatic diseases in China.
Methods
Relevant reports of population-based surveys conducted from 1980 to 2006 were retrieved. Studies using the World Health Organization-International League of Associations for Rheumatology COPCORD (Community Oriented Program for Control of Rheumatic Diseases) protocol and those that did not employ this protocol but were published in recognized journals were identified and analyzed.
Results
Thirty-eight surveys including 241,169 adults from 25 provinces/cities were pooled for analysis. The prevalence of rheumatic complaints ranged from 11.6% to 46.4%, varying by locality, study protocol and age of the people surveyed. Prevalence of symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA) varied from 5.1% to 20.8%, with common sites of involvement being the lumbar spine, knee joint and cervical spine. Compared with rates of radiographic and symptomatic knee OA in the USA, elderly men in Beijing exhibited similar prevalence rates and elderly women exhibited a higher prevalence. The prevalence of hip OA and hand OA was much lower in Chinese than in Caucasian populations, but both kinds of OA were more common in coal miners. The prevalence of ankylosing spondylitis ranged from 0.2% to 0.54% among Han ethnic Chinese and were lower among mixed ethnic populations. The prevalence of psoriatic arthritis ranged from 0.01% to 0.1%, and that of reactive arthritis was 0.02%; undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy was identified in 0.64% to 1.2% of the individuals included in the surveys. The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) ranged from 0.2% to 0.93%, with the highest rate being reported from a Taiwan urban area. In mainland China there were no significant differences in prevalence of RA between the northern and southern parts of China, or between different ethnic groups. The prevalence of hyperuricemia increased after the 1980s. The prevalence of gout was found to have increased in recent decades from 0.15% to 1.98%, apart from in the Taiwan aborigines, among whom the highest prevalence rate of 11.7% was recorded. The prevalence of primary Sjögren's syndrome in Beijing was 0.77% by the Copenhagen criteria and 0.33% by the San Diego criteria. The prevalence of soft tissue rheumatism was 2.5% to 5.7%. Fibromyalgia was seldom observed in China.
Conclusion
Rheumatic diseases are common in China. The prevalence of rheumatic complaints varied with the locality surveyed. The prevalence of OA is comparable with that in Western countries but varies in terms of joint involvement. The prevalence of ankylosing spondylitis is similar to that in Caucasians. Except in Taiwan, the prevalence of RA in China is lower than that in developed countries. The prevalence of hyperuricemia and gout increased after the 1980s, but it remains lower than that in developed countries. More studies are required to evaluate prevalence rates among minority groups in the west and northwest parts of China, and further study is needed to address fibromyalgia in China.
doi:10.1186/ar2368
PMCID: PMC2374446  PMID: 18237382
21.  Policy silences: why Canada needs a National First Nations, Inuit and Métis health policy 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2013;72:10.3402/ijch.v72i0.22690.
Objectives
Despite attempts, policy silences continue to create barriers to addressing the healthcare needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The purpose of this article is to answer the question, if what we have in Canada is an Aboriginal health policy patchwork that fails to address inequities, then what would a Healthy Aboriginal Health Policy framework look like?
Methods
The data collected included federal, provincial and territorial health policies and legislation that contain Aboriginal, First Nation, Inuit and/or Métis-specific provisions available on the internet. Key websites included the Parliamentary Library, federal, provincial and territorial health and Aboriginal websites, as well as the Department of Justice Canada, Statistics Canada and the Aboriginal Canada Portal.
Results
The Indian Act gives the Governor in Council the authority to make health regulations. The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Health Canada historically provided health services to First Nations and Inuit, as a matter of policy. FNIHB's policies are few, and apply only to Status Indians and Inuit. Health legislation in 2 territories and 4 provinces contain no provision to clarify their responsibilities. In provinces where provisions exist, they broadly focus on jurisdiction. Few Aboriginal-specific policies and policy frameworks exist. Generally, these apply to some Aboriginal peoples and exclude others.
Conclusion
Although some Aboriginal-specific provisions exist in some legislation, and some policies are in place, significant gaps and jurisdictional ambiguities remain. This policy patchwork perpetuates confusion. A national First Nation, Inuit and Métis policy framework is needed to address this issue.
doi:10.3402/ijch.v72i0.22690
PMCID: PMC3875351  PMID: 24380077
indigenous populations; health services; indigenous; health policy; legislation; Canada
22.  Death and renal transplantation among Aboriginal people undergoing dialysis 
Background
Despite the increase in the number of Aboriginal people with end-stage renal disease around the world, little is known about their health outcomes when undergoing renal replacement therapy. We evaluated differences in survival and rate of renal transplantation among Aboriginal and white patients after initiation of dialysis.
Methods
Adult patients who were Aboriginal or white and who commenced dialysis in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba between Jan. 1, 1990, and Dec. 31, 2000, were recruited for the study and were followed until death, transplantation, loss to follow-up or the end of the study (Dec. 31, 2001). We used Cox proportional hazards models to examine the effect of race on patient survival and likelihood of transplant, with adjustment for potential confounders.
Results
Of the 4333 adults who commenced dialysis during the study period, 15.8% were Aboriginal and 72.4% were white. Unadjusted rates of death per 1000 patient-years during the study period were 158 (95% confidence interval [CI] 144–176) for Aboriginal patients and 146 (95% CI 139–153) for white patients. When follow-up was censored at the time of transplantation, the age-adjusted risk of death after initiation of dialysis was significantly higher among Aboriginal patients than among white patients (hazard ratio [HR] 1.15, 95% CI 1.02–1.30). The greater risk of death associated with Aboriginal race was no longer observed after adjustment for diabetes mellitus and other comorbid conditions (adjusted HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.77–1.02) and did not appear to be associated with socioeconomic status. During the study period, unadjusted transplantation rates per 1000 patient-years were 62 (95% CI 52–75) for Aboriginal patients and 133 (95% CI 125–142) for white patients. Aboriginal patients were significantly less likely to receive a renal transplant after commencing dialysis, even after adjustment for potential confounders (HR 0.43, 95% CI 0.35–0.53). In an additional analysis that included follow-up after transplantation for those who received renal allografts, the age-adjusted risk of death associated with Aboriginal race (HR 1.36, 95% CI 1.21–1.52) was higher than when follow-up after transplantation was not considered, perhaps because of the lower rate of transplantation among Aboriginals.
Interpretation
Survival among dialysis patients was similar for Aboriginal and white patients after adjustment for comorbidity. However, despite universal access to health care, Aboriginal people had a significantly lower rate of renal transplantation, which might have adversely affected their survival when receiving renal replacement therapy.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.1031859
PMCID: PMC516192  PMID: 15367459
23.  Voting with their feet - predictors of discharge against medical advice in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ischaemic heart disease inpatients in Western Australia: an analytic study using data linkage 
Background
Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA) from hospital is associated with adverse outcomes and is considered an indicator of the responsiveness of hospitals to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the indigenous people of Australia. We investigated demographic and clinical factors that predict DAMA in patients experiencing their first-ever inpatient admission for ischaemic heart disease (IHD). The study focuses particularly on the differences in the risk of DAMA in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients while also investigating other factors in their own right.
Methods
A cross-sectional analytical study was undertaken using linked hospital and mortality data with complete coverage of Western Australia. Participants included all first-ever IHD inpatients (aged 25–79 years) admitted between 2005 and 2009, selected after a 15-year clearance period and who were discharged alive. The main outcome measure was DAMA as reflected in the hospital record.
Multiple logistic regression was used to determine disparities in DAMA between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal patients, adjusting for a range of demographic and clinical factors, including comorbidity based on 5-year hospitalization history. A series of additional models were run on subgroups of the cohort to refine the analysis. Ethics approval was granted by the WA Human Research and the WA Aboriginal Health Ethics Committees.
Results
Aboriginal patients comprised 4.3% of the cohort of 37,304 IHD patients and 23% of the 224 DAMAs. Emergency admission (OR=5.9, 95% CI 2.9-12.2), alcohol admission history (alcohol-related OR=2.9, 95% CI 2.0-4.2) and Aboriginality (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.5-3.5) were the strongest predictors of DAMA in the multivariate model. Patients living in rural areas while attending non-metropolitan hospitals had a 50% higher risk of DAMA than those living and hospitalised in metropolitan areas. There was consistency in the ORs for Aboriginality in the different multivariate models using restricted sub-cohorts and different Aboriginal identifiers. Sex, IHD diagnosis type and co-morbidity scores imparted different risks in Aboriginal versus non-Aboriginal patients.
Conclusions
Understanding the risks and reasons for DAMA is important for health system policy and proactive management of those at risk of DAMA. Improving care to prevent DAMA should target unplanned admissions, rural hospitals and young men, Aboriginal people and those with alcohol and mental health comorbidities.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-330
PMCID: PMC3765140  PMID: 23962275
Discharge against medical advice; Aboriginal health; Ischaemic Heart Disease; Linked data; Australia
24.  Prevalence of and risk factors for asthma in off-reserve Aboriginal children and adults in Canada 
Only a few studies have investigated asthma morbidity in Canadian Aboriginal children. In the present study, data from the 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey were used to determine the prevalence and risk factors for asthma in Canadian Aboriginal children six to 14 years of age and adults 15 to 64 years of age living off reserve. The prevalence of asthma was 14.3% in children and 14.0% in adults. Children and adults with Inuit ancestry had a significantly lower prevalence of asthma than those with North American Indian and Métis ancestries. Factors significantly associated with ever asthma in children included male sex, allergy, low birth weight, obesity, poor dwelling conditions and urban residence. In adults, factors associated with ever asthma varied among Aboriginal groups; however, age group, sex and urban residence were associated with ever asthma in all four Aboriginal groups. The prevalence of asthma was lower in Aboriginal children and higher in Aboriginal adults compared with that reported for the Canadian population. Variation in the prevalence of and risk factors for asthma among Aboriginal ancestry groups may be related to genetic and environmental factors that require further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3603767  PMID: 23248805
Aboriginal; Adults; Asthma; Children; Prevalence; Risk factors
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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