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)

Getting over the shock: taking action on Indigenous maternal smoking

Gillian S. Gould A D , Yvonne Cadet-James B and Alan R. Clough C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Brain and Mental Health, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.

B Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

C Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: gillian.gould@newcastle.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 22(4) 276-282 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY15066
Submitted: 10 March 2015  Accepted: 21 February 2016   Published: 21 July 2016

Abstract

Smoking rates are slow to decline among pregnant Indigenous women. One in two pregnant Indigenous Australian women is a tobacco smoker compared with one in eight in the non-Indigenous population. The National Close the Gap strategy ambitiously aims to reduce Indigenous smoking prevalence to half by 2018, but this goal is unlikely to be achieved. Evidence is growing to better inform targeted strategies for Indigenous pregnant women based on national and international studies. It is proposed to be an appropriate time to refine translational approaches for anti-tobacco messages and cessation support in this population, rather than waiting for further empirical research before making these essential changes. Systemic barriers to Indigenous pregnant women receiving equitable primary health care have been identified, are remediable, and urgently require addressing. These barriers include: (1) lack of subsidised access to suitable oral forms of nicotine replacement therapy; (2) lack of clinician training in the complex area of management of maternal Indigenous smoking; and (3) lack of targeted health promotion programs addressing the psychosocial challenges that Indigenous women face. In the interim, translational strategies to target tobacco control and cessation in pregnant Indigenous women need to be based on current evidence.


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