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

Understanding health talk in an urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary healthcare service: a cross-sectional study

Prabha Lakhan A F , Deborah Askew A B , Mark F. Harris C , Corey Kirk A D and Noel Hayman A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care (Inala Indigenous Health Service), Metro South Health, PO Box 52, Inala, Qld 4077, Australia.

B Discipline of General Practice, Primary Care Clinical Unit, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Level 8 Health Sciences Building, Building 16/910, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, Brisbane Qld 4029, Australia.

C Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

D Present address: Aboriginal Employment Strategy Ltd, Shop 5/12 Queen Street, Goodna, Qld 4300, Australia.

E Primary Care Clinical Unit, School of Clinical Medicine, The University of Queensland, Level 8 Health Sciences Building, Building 16/910, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Qld 4029, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: prabha.lakhan@health.qld.gov.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 23(4) 335-341 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY16162
Submitted: 30 November 2016  Accepted: 15 March 2017   Published: 9 June 2017

Abstract

Health literacy is an important determinant of health status. This cross-sectional study aimed to describe the prevalence of adequate health literacy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients or their carers including parents of sick children attending an urban primary healthcare clinic in Australia, and their experiences of communication with General Practitioners (GPs). A questionnaire, including questions from the Brief Health Literacy Screen (BHLS) and questions from the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS): Communication with Provider, was administered to 427 participants. Descriptive statistics, Pearson’s Chi-Square test and logistic regression analysis were used to describe the prevalence and risk factors associated with health literacy and any associations between the CAHPS questions and health literacy. In total, 72% of participants had adequate health literacy. An age of ≥50 years was independently associated with inadequate health literacy, and completion of secondary or post-secondary schooling was protective. Communication questions that identified areas for improvement included less use of incomprehensible medical words and more frequent use of visual aids. The study provides useful information on health literacy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, or their carers, and their experiences of communication with GPs. Further population-based research is required to investigate the effect of health literacy on health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Additional keywords: communication, General Practitioner, health literacy.


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