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Identifying the core elements of the cultural determinants of health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

This project aims to first review and define Australian and international understandings of the cultural determinants of health and wellbeing. It will then identify and review the current evidence of the relationships between core protective elements of cultural determinants and health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This will involve two literature reviews and the facilitation of a series of focus groups in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help define what these cultural determinants are.

This project will be led by Chief Investigator (CI) Dr Ray Lovett: an emerging researcher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research with local, interstate, national and international links. Partner Investigators (PI) Drs Jill Guthrie and Terry Dunbar are established Aboriginal researchers who will provide important mentoring experience to CI Lovett and the Research Officer on the review and focus group processes. They may also act as co-facilitators for focus group meetings with Aboriginal organisations that have been identified as potential partners. Our Aboriginal community partners will play an integral role in helping establish what the cultural indicators are through the focus group work.

This project will enable the research to bring meaningful benefit from the local level to the national level, and finally the international level. Both reviews will provide evidence to ensure cultural determinants are given priority in program and policy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The two projects will ensure that the yield of this investment is maximised, by taking a long term, holistic and comprehensive view. Finally, the study will lead to definitions and the current state of evidence for, and refinement of, policy and practice outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The project’s impact will be measured in a few ways, including: changes to individual and community behaviours; potential uptake and revitalisation of cultural factors; increased experience and academic development of Aboriginal researchers involved in project as well as focus group participants; refocussing of policy to support community cultural activities; and an increased number of publications relating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and their relationship to health and wellbeing outcomes.

The project will conduct two interrelated reviews:

  1. Conduct a systematic literature review to gain an understanding of the national and international concepts of Indigenous cultural determinants of health and wellbeing. To complement the review, five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focus groups will be conducted to describe cultural factors of importance to wellbeing.
  2. A systematic literature review to assess current evidence about cultural determinants and health and wellbeing outcomes.

There are several ways in which the project will contribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research workforce. This review will further extend CI Lovett’s skills as a researcher and facilitator through the conduct of focus groups; preparation and publication of both peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed research reports; and participation in conferences, community feedback forums and other similar activities. The project’s exposure will also contribute to the academic profiles of CIs Guthrie and Dunbar as well as increasing interest from other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers looking to work in this space. The project’s moderate level of direct engagement with Indigenous communities through the focus groups will ensure participants also gain a level of experience through their involvement.

Expected outcomes
  1. A conceptual understanding and systematic review of cultural factors thought to be related to Indigenous health and wellbeing.
  2. A state of evidence review identifying the relationship between Indigenous cultural factors and health and wellbeing outcomes.
Created: 21 February 2017 - Updated: 21 February 2017