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Abstract

Objective:To conduct a review of interventions to reduce the harm resulting from tobacco use among Indigenous Australians and to discuss the likely effect of a range of tobacco interventions if conducted in this population.

Methods:A systematic review of medical literature and an audit of information from 32 government departments, non-government organisations and Indigenous health organisations, which was completed in March 2001.

Results:A number of small tobacco programs had been conducted. Only four tobacco interventions had been evaluated in Indigenous communities: a trial of training health professionals in conducting a brief intervention for smoking cessation; a trial of a CD-ROM on tobacco for use with Indigenous schoolchildren; a qualitative evaluation of the effect of a mainstream advertising campaign on Indigenous people; and a pilot study of smoke-free workplaces, evaluated by qualitative methods. None of these studies assessed smoking cessation as an outcome. Two of these studies were unable to conclusively show any effect of the interventions; training health professionals in delivering a brief intervention resulted in some changes to practice and the evaluation of the mainstream advertising campaign showed that following the campaign, knowledge about tobacco had increased.

Conclusions:There was a major lack of research on and evaluation of tobacco interventions for Indigenous Australians.

Implications:More research and evaluation is required to ensure that tobacco interventions are appropriate and effective for Indigenous people. It is time to cease chronicling the ill health of Indigenous Australians and time to ensure the availability of well-evaluated, effective tobacco programs.