The effect of social support on the health of Indigenous Australians in a metropolitan community

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The factors driving the disparity in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians continue to be poorly understood. Despite this, studies confirm that social connections are a very important part of Indigenous life, and it is likely these connections play an important role in influencing health outcomes among this population. Examining the support provided by social connections in relation to health behaviour may assist our understanding of health outcomes among Indigenous Australians. The current study is focused on exploring Indigenous participants' impressions of their social network and social support using Participatory Action Research methodology and qualitative methods. The objective was to identify the influence of social support on the health outcomes of Indigenous people within a Western Australian metropolitan community. Seventeen members of the community were interviewed during the study. The participants had extensive social networks that mainly comprised members of their kinship group. The consequences of this social network included: (1) the positive effects of social support from bonded relationships; (2) the negative effects of social support produced by over-obligation and unidirectional support involving bonded relationships; (3) limited or inadequate social support caused by withdrawal from bonded relationships; (4) lack of social support from bridging relationships; and (5) a strong desire for connection and a sense of belonging.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-146
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Volume119
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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