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

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Enhancing national data to align with policy objectives: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking prevalence at finer geographic levels

Alyson Wright , Ray Lovett , Yvette Roe , Alice Richardson


Objectives: To assess the utility of national Aboriginal survey data in a regional geospatial analysis of daily smoking prevalence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and discuss the appropriateness of this analysis for policy and program impact assessment. Methods: Data from the last two ABS national surveys of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014-15 (n=7,022 adults) and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2012-13 (n=10,896 adults), were used to map the prevalence of smoking by Indigenous regions. Results: Daily smoking prevalence in 2014-15 at Indigenous regions ranges from 27.1 (18.9 – 35.3) in Toowoomba region (QLD) to 68.0 (58.1 -77.9) in Katherine region, NT. Confidence intervals are wide and there is no significant difference in any region over the two time periods. Conclusion: There are significant limitations with analysing national survey data at finer geographical scales. Given the national program for Indigenous tobacco control is a regional model, evaluation requires finer geographical analysis of smoking prevalence to inform public health progress, policy and program impacts. Options to improve the data currently collected include increasing national survey sample sizes, implementing a smoking status question in census survey, investing in current cohort studies focused on this population, or implementing localised surveys.

AH16269  Accepted 14 March 2017

© CSIRO 2017