Factors Influencing the Health Behaviour of Indigenous Australians: Perspectives from Support People

Pippa Waterworth, Melanie Pescud, Rebecca Braham, James Dimmock, Michael Rosenberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Disparities between the health of Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations continue to be prevalent within Australia. Research suggests that Indigenous people participate in health risk behaviour more often than their non-Indigenous counterparts, and that such behaviour has a substantial impact on health outcomes. Although this would indicate that reducing health risk behaviour may have positive effects on health outcomes, the factors that influence Indigenous health behaviour are still poorly understood. This study aimed to interview people who support Indigenous groups to gain an understanding of their views on the factors influencing health behaviour within Indigenous groups in Western Australia. Twenty nine people participated in the study. The emergent themes were mapped against the social ecological model. The results indicated that: (1) culture, social networks, history, racism, socioeconomic disadvantage, and the psychological distress associated with some of these factors interact to affect health behaviour in a complex manner; (2) the desire to retain cultural identity and distinctiveness may have both positive and negative influence on health risk behaviour; (3) strong social connections to family and kin that is intensified by cultural obligations, appears to affirm and disrupt positive health behaviour; (4) the separation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous social connection/networks that appeared to be fostered by marginalisation and racism may influence the effect of social networks on health behaviour; and (5) communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people may be interrupted by distrust between the groups, which reduces the influence of some non-Indigenous sources on the health behaviour of Indigenous people.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPLOS ONE (Public Library of Science)
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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