Gorman, Don and Toombs, Maree (2009) Matching research methodology with Australian indigenous culture. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, 33 (3). pp. 4-7. ISSN 1037-3403
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Indigenous Australians have poorer self-assessed health than non-Indigenous Australians, have higher rates of hospitalisation and higher prevalence rates for many diseases, experience an earlier onset of disease, and suffer a burden of disease that is two and a half times greater. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also suffer higher rates of mental illness, are twice as likely to report high to very high levels of psychological distress, and are likely to have higher General Practitioner encounter rates (Pink & Allbon, 2008).
Notwithstanding the above and the obvious need for research
to help address these appalling statistics, Aboriginal peoples have long argued that research conducted in their communities does not benefit them or lead to improvements in their health (de Crespigny, Emden, Kowanko & Murray, 2004; Eades SJ, Read AW & Bibbulung Gnarneep Team, 1999; Henry et al., 2004; Holmes, Stewart, Garrow, Anderson & Thorpe, 2002; Hunter, 2001).
In this article we look at some of the reasons why research
may not have achieved the improvement in Indigenous
Australian health that was hoped for, and propose some ideas
about how research methodology and Australian Indigenous
cultures can be better matched, and therefore be more likely
to address their health needs.
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