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Keywords:

  • Aboriginal health;
  • health system monitoring;
  • chronic diseases

Abstract

Objective: Focussing on maternal/newborn health and vascular diseases, to review NSW Health's reporting, by Aboriginal status, against national performance indicators relevant to preventable chronic diseases.

Methods: We reviewed seven indicator documents and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Chronic Disease Indicator Database to identify national indicators. Indicators from six NSW Health reports were then compared with these national indicators to assess reporting by Aboriginal status and region.

Results: NSW Health routinely reports against six maternal/newborn indicators and fourteen vascular national indicators. Five of the former report performance by both Aboriginal status and region. Eight of the latter report by Aboriginal status, one of which (diabetes hospitalisations) also reports by region. Indicator quality and breadth was substantially limited by under-enumeration of Aboriginal status, small or potentially unrepresentative samples, inadequate longitudinal or regional data and few primary health care indicators. Notwithstanding these limitations, we found wide and persistent disparities in outcomes for Aboriginal people for all indicators in all regions.

Conclusions: NSW Health reports adequately, by Aboriginal status, for maternal/newborn health monitoring (albeit constrained by under-enumeration), but provides limited information about vascular health. A minimum, national chronic disease indicator dataset against which all jurisdictions would report performance by Aboriginal status and region is needed. Improved monitoring requires sustained efforts to address under-enumeration, better survey sampling, and population representative data from the primary care system.