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Collaborative Social-Epidemiology: A Co-analysis of the Cultural and Structural Determinants of Health for Aboriginal Youth in Victorian Schools

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journal contribution
posted on 23.09.2021, 00:38 by JN Luke, A Thorpe, Carlina BlackCarlina Black, L Thorpe, D Thomas, S Eades, K Rowley
Social-epidemiology that excludes Aboriginal voices often fails to capture the full and complex social worlds of Aboriginal people. Using data from an existing co-designed Victorian government Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Survey (2008/9), we worked with Aboriginal organizations to identify data priorities, select measures, interpret data, and contextualize findings. Using this participatory co-analysis approach, we selected “cultural” and “structural” determinants identified by Aboriginal organizations as important and modelled these using principal component analysis. Resulting components were then modelled using logistic regression to investigate associations with “likely being well” (Kessler-10 score < 20) for 88 Aboriginal adolescents aged 11–17 years. Principal component analysis grouped 11 structural variables into four components and 11 cultural variables into three components. Of these, “grew up in Aboriginal family/community and connected” associated with significantly higher odds of “likely being well” (OR = 2.26 (1.01–5.06), p = 0.046). Conversely, “institutionally imposed family displacement” had significantly lower odds (OR = 0.49 (0.24–0.97), p = 0.040) and “negative police contact and poverty” non-significantly lower odds (OR = 0.53 (0.26–1.06), p = 0.073) for “likely being well”. Using a co-analysis participatory approach, the voices of Aboriginal researchers and Aboriginal organizations were able to construct a social world that aligned with their ways of knowing, doing, and being. Findings highlighted institutionally imposed family displacement, policing, and poverty as social sites for health intervention and emphasized the importance of strong Aboriginal families for adolescents.


Joanne Luke is recipient of an Australian Heart Foundation Indigenous Scholarship 2015.


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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





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