Development of a culturally sensitive program delivering cardiovascular health education to indigenous Australians, in South-West towns of Western Australia with lay educators as community role models

Julie Owen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] Indigenous Australians suffer cardiovascular disease (CVD) at a rate six times greater than the general population in Australia and while the incidence of CVD has been reduced dramatically amongst the majority of non-indigenous Australians and amongst Indigenous populations in other countries in the last 30 years, there has been little change in the figures for Aboriginal Australians, showing that heart health campaigns have little impact, for this group of people. Aims : The principal aims of this study were firstly, to determine and record the barriers to the development and delivery of CVD prevention programs amongst Indigenous Australians and secondly, to develop an alternative, effective and culturally sensitive method of delivering heart health messages. Methods and results : The study was qualitative research undertaken in three South-West towns of Western Australia where the incidence of CVD was high amongst the Aboriginal community members. The use of semi-formal interviews, informal individual consultation, observation, and focus groups were methods implemented to obtain information. The first phase of the research was to identify the barriers which affected the Aboriginal Health Workers’ ability to deliver specialist educational programs. Questionnaires and interviews with the Aboriginal Health Workers and other health professionals in the towns, and community focus groups were undertaken in this phase of the study. The second phase of the research was aimed at developing an alternative strategy for delivering heart health messages. The focus changed to adopt more traditional ways of passing on information in Indigenous communities. The idea of small gatherings of friends or family with a trusted community member presenting the health message was developed. The third phase of the research was to implement this new approach. Lay educators who had been identified within focus groups and by Aboriginal Health Workers were trained in each of the towns and a protocol involving discussions of health issues, viewing a video on CVD, produced by the National Heart Foundation, sharing in a ‘heart healthy’ lunch and partaking in a ‘heart health’ knowledge game which was developed specifically for the gatherings. Several of these gatherings were held in each of the towns and they became known as ‘HeartAware parties’.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2006


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