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Keywords:

  • aboriginal health;
  • female adolescents;
  • overweight;
  • anaemia;
  • hepatitis B virus infection;
  • oral decay;
  • nursing

Background.  The mortality rate and prevalence for some chronic diseases are higher for aborigines compared with the rest of the Taiwanese population. Health professionals in many countries have been concerned with the health of aborigines, but specific health policies for native adolescents have been neglected.

Aims.  This paper reports a study comparing the general health status of aborigines and non-aborigine female adolescents, based on school enrolment health examinations.

Methods.  A cross-sectional prevalence study with between group comparison was conducted. School enrolment health files were accessed between September 2000 and June 2001. A total of 320 selected female aboriginal students were compared with 237 non-aborigines.

Results.  With the exception of eye problems, general health status was inferior for the aboriginal female adolescent students. They had lower mean red blood cell volumes, lower haemoglobin concentrations, more oral decay, a greater prevalence of hepatitis B virus carriers and were more likely to be overweight.

Conclusions.  It seems reasonable to suggest that health intervention strategies specific for indigenous adolescents should be provided. The design of these strategies should target lifestyle modification and provision of more accessible health information. Health professionals, and particularly nurses, are in a prime position to offer advice and support to this group.