Objective: To review available literature addressing the issue of whether smoking status of Indigenous Health Workers (IHWs) impedes provision of health information about smoking tobacco to their communities.
Method: Databases were searched for publications that examined IHWs’ smoking status or quit support programs for IHWs. Studies were categorised as reviews and commentaries, intervention studies or descriptive research.
Results: Fourteen studies met inclusion criteria. Overall, the literature suggests that IHWs’ smoking status is a barrier. However, the poor quality of most studies weakens the evidence for this conclusion. The issue of IHWs smoking status as a barrier is peripheral to all but two of the studies. Literature cited and reviewed was often not exhaustive and relied on only a few preceding empirical studies. Most studies were unclear about whether IHWs’ views were reported as distinct from views of health staff in general.
Conclusions and implications: The recent COAG investment to Tackling Smoking is an important contribution to Closing the Gap in the health of Indigenous Australians. However, there remain potential barriers faced by IHWs that may undermine efforts to reduce Indigenous smoking. Overcoming these barriers and assisting IHWs to quit smoking may provide an opportunity to address high rates of smoking in Indigenous communities. Further research is required with a balance between descriptive research to assess the issue and intervention research to address it.