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

‘I’m not sure it paints an honest picture of where my health’s at’ – identifying community health and research priorities based on health assessments within an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community: a qualitative study

Geoffrey K. Spurling A B F , Chelsea J. Bond C , Philip J. Schluter D E , Corey I. Kirk B and Deborah A. Askew A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The University of Queensland, Discipline of General Practice, Level 8, Health Sciences Building, Building 16/910, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, Herston, Qld 4029, Australia.

B Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care, 37 Wirraway Parade, Inala, Qld 4077, Australia.

C The University of Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, Level 2, Bookshop Building 4, St Lucia, Qld, 4072, Australia.

D University of Canterbury – Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha, School of Health Sciences, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand.

E The University of Queensland, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, Level 3, Chamberlain Building (#35), St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: g.spurling@uq.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health - https://doi.org/10.1071/PY16131
Submitted: 16 October 2016  Accepted: 9 December 2016   Published online: 8 February 2017

Abstract

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments are conducted annually in Australian primary care to detect risk factors, chronic diseases and implement preventive health measures. At the Inala Indigenous Health Service, health assessment data have also been used for research purposes. This research has been investigator-driven, which risks misinterpreting or ignoring community priorities compared with community-led research. The objective of this research was to learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community’s health priorities that could be translated into research themes, and investigate these using health assessment data. A thematic analysis of data was conducted from 21 semi-structured interviews with purposively selected key informants from an urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Key informants articulated an authoritative understanding of how interrelated, inter-generational, social, cultural and environmental determinants operated in a ‘cycle’ to influence the community’s health. Key informant views supported the inclusion of these determinants in health assessments, reinforced the importance of comprehensive primary healthcare and strengthened referral pathways to community resources. Some key informants were ambivalent about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments because of their biomedical emphasis. This research also revealed limitations of health assessment-based research and the biomedical emphasis of the health system more broadly.


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