Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Contribution of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services to improving Aboriginal health: an evidence review

Megan Ann Campbell A D , Jennifer Hunt A , David J. Scrimgeour B , Maureen Davey C and Victoria Jones A

A Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council, Level 3, 66 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills, NSW 2010, Australia. Email: jhunt@ahmrc.org.au; vjones@ahmrc.org.au

B Spinifex Health Service, PMB 88, via Kalgoorlie, WA 6430, Australia. Email: David.scrimgeour@spinifexhealth.org.au

C Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, 198 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia. Email: Maureen.d@tacinc.com.au

D Corresponding author. Email: megananncampbell@hotmail.com

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16149
Submitted: 12 July 2016  Accepted: 20 December 2016   Published online: 7 March 2017

Abstract

Objective Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) deliver comprehensive, culturally appropriate primary health care to Aboriginal people and communities. The published literature acknowledging and supporting the roles of ACCHSs in improving Aboriginal health is limited. This paper seeks to collate and analyse the published evidence supporting the contribution of ACCHSs to improving the health of Aboriginal people.

Methods A conceptual framework for exploring the contribution of ACCHSs was developed, drawing on the literature on the core functions of ACCHSs and the components of quality primary health care. This framework was used to structure the search strategy, inclusion criteria and analysis of the review.

Results ACCHSs contribute to improving the health and well being of Aboriginal peoples through several pathways, including community controlled governance, providing employment and training, strengthening the broader health system and providing accessible, comprehensive primary health care.

Conclusions ACCHSs make a range of important contributions to improving the health of Aboriginal peoples that are under-acknowledged. Consideration of the different ways ACCHSs contribute to improving Aboriginal health is of value in the design and evaluation of programs and policies that aim to improve the health of Aboriginal peoples.

What is known about the topic? Aboriginal communities have long argued the vital role of ACCHSs in improving Aboriginal health.

What does this paper add? This paper provides a comprehensive collation and analysis of the evidence supporting the contributions ACCHSs are making to improving Aboriginal health.

What are the implications for practitioners? The conceptual framework and findings outlined in this paper illustrate that ACCHSs are making important contributions to improving Aboriginal health through several pathways. This information can be used to ensure actions to improve Aboriginal health are appropriate and effective. There are important gaps in the literature that researchers need to address.


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