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Impact of COVID-19 on preventive health behaviours of Aboriginal communities

University of New England

Date Funded:
  • 17 July, 2020
Chief Investigator/s:

Project summary

Indigenous people experience high rates of chronic illness. COVID restrictions may have made seeking preventive health more challenging.

What is the issue for NSW?

Chronic conditions, which impact Indigenous Australians at a much higher rate than non-indigenous Australians, are responsible for the majority of disability and death in Australia. These conditions, which require ongoing management, have much better outcomes if identified early and managed effectively by regular screening and regular routine care.

Indigenous health assessments, MBS item # 715 (introduced to help close the gap in Indigenous health outcomes) and other preventive health items, have low uptake across many areas of NSW with some areas recording extremely low uptake. Given the fact that Indigenous people are more likely to develop chronic illnesses, attendance at preventive health opportunities is an important strategy to improve health outcomes for Indigenous people.

The pandemic may have made attendance at preventive health appointments challenging and thus caused a reduction in uptake of preventive health opportunities making the risk of unnoticed health deterioration greater.

What does the research aim to do and how?

The research aims to measure and explore the current preventive behaviours and their barriers and enablers in Aboriginal people residing in New South Wales before and during the pandemic. Sequential mixed methods will be conducted using a collaborative approach.

Phase 1: a data base study of NSW Health linked data of preventive health indicators for Indigenous Australians residing in NSW.

Phase 2: a qualitative study using a yarning storytelling approach to explore the reasons for attending or not attending for preventive health appointments following COVID-19, to explore current preventive health behaviours during COVID-19 isolation, and identify potential strategies for improvement.

More information

Making preventative health care culturally safe for aboriginal people