Living with Rheumatic Heart Disease at the Intersection of Biomedical and Aboriginal Worldviews.

Emma Haynes, Minitja Marawili, Brendan Makungun Marika, Alice Mitchell, Roz Walker, Judith Katzenellenbogen, Dawn Bessarab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) significantly impacts the lives of First Nations Australians. Failure to eliminate RHD is in part attributed to healthcare strategies that fail to understand the lived experience of RHD. To rectify this, a PhD study was undertaken in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia, combining Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing with interviews (24 participants from clinical and community settings) and participant observation to privilege Aboriginal voices, including the interpretations and experiences of Aboriginal co-researchers (described in the adjunct article). During analysis, Aboriginal co-researchers identified three interwoven themes: Maintaining good feelings; creating clear understanding (from good information); and choosing a good djalkiri (path). These affirm a worldview that prioritises relationships, positive emotions and the wellbeing of family/community. The findings demonstrate the inter-connectedness of knowledge, choice and behaviour that become increasingly complex in stressful and traumatic health, socioeconomic, political, historical and cultural contexts. Not previously heard in the RHD domain, the findings reveal fundamental differences between Aboriginal and biomedical worldviews contributing to the failure of current approaches to communicating health messages. Mitigating this, Aboriginal co-researchers provided targeted recommendations for culturally responsive health encounters, including: Communicating to create positive emotions; building trust; and providing family and community data and health messages (rather than individualistic). © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4650
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


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