Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Are primary healthcare services culturally appropriate for Aboriginal people? Findings from a remote community

Kaye Smith A , Yaqoot Fatima A B and Sabina Knight A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, James Cook University, 100 Joan Street, Mount Isa, Qld 4825, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: yaqoot.fatima@jcu.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 23(3) 236-242 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY16110
Submitted: 1 August 2016  Accepted: 13 January 2017   Published: 13 April 2017

Abstract

This study explored the views of key stakeholders on cultural appropriateness of primary health care (PHC) services for Aboriginal people. A total of 78 participants, including healthcare providers, administrative team members (n = 24, ~30% of study sample) and Aboriginal community members (n = 54, ~70% of study sample) living in remote North West Queensland participated in the study. Outcome measures were assessed by administering survey questionnaires comprising qualitative questions and various subscales (e.g. provider behaviours and attitudes, communication, physical environment and facilities, and support from administrative staff). Descriptive statistics were used to present quantitative findings, whereas inductive thematic analysis was used for qualitative data. In contrast to the views of PHC providers, a significant number of Aboriginal people did not perceive that they were receiving culturally appropriate services. Although PHC providers acknowledged cultural awareness training for familiarising themselves with Aboriginal culture, they found the training to be general, superficial and lacking prospective evaluation. PHC providers should understand that culturally inappropriate clinical encounters generate mistrust and dissatisfaction. Therefore, a broad approach involving culturally respectful association between PHC providers, Aboriginal consumers and administrative staff is required to bring sustainable changes at the practice level to improve the health of Aboriginal people.


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