Self-rated health status in an urban indigenous primary care setting: implications for clinicians and public health policy

Authors


Correspondence to:
Dr Geoffrey Spurling, Discipline for General Practice, University of Queensland, Inala Indigenous Health, 64 Wirraway Pde, Inala, QLD 4077. Fax: (07) 3278 9987; e-mail g.spurling@uq.edu.au

Abstract

Background: Self-rated health status provides insights into the health beliefs of a population. This will be important for framing public health messages in the context of the need to ‘close the gap’ for Australian Indigenous people. Our primary objectives were to describe the self-rated health status of Indigenous people attending the Inala Indigenous Health service, identify associations with positive and negative self-rated health status and identify targets for public health awareness raising activity.

Methods: Using a convenience sample, we approached all Indigenous patients attending the Inala Indigenous Health Service for an Indigenous adult health check between June 2007 and July 2008. From Indigenous adult health check data we analysed self-rated health status and chronic disease risk factors.

Results: Out of a possible 509, 413 patients were recruited (response rate 81%). The number of participants who rated their health as fair or poor was 47%. The association of greatest magnitude and statistical significance with Indigenous patients’ self rated health status (negative versus positive) was waist circumference followed by smoking, depression and age. Chronic disease risk factors not associated with self-rated health status included systolic blood pressure, harmful alcohol use, marijuana use, presence of diabetes and lack of exercise.

Conclusions: High rates of negative self-rated health status were found. Public health awareness-raising for Indigenous audiences should consider targeting chronic disease risk factors such as systolic blood pressure, harmful alcohol use, marijuana use, presence of diabetes and lack of exercise.

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