Facilitating engagement through strong relationships between primary healthcare and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Carol Davy, Alan Cass, John Brady, Joanne Devries, Barry Fewquandie, Suzzane Ingram, Ricky Mentha, Pamela Simon, Bernadette Rickards, Samantha Togni, Hueming Liu, David Peiris, Deborah Askew, Elaine Kite, Leda Sivak, Maree Hackett, Josée Lavoie, Alex Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Given the high prevalence of chronic disease, it is of concern that access to and sustained engagement with primary healthcare services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is often far lower than would be expected. This study sought to explore ways in which relationships can support sustained engagement with healthcare services. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 126 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants with and without chronic disease and 97 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous healthcare providers, healthcare service managers or administrative staff. Results: Our findings indicate that when faced with acute health issues, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants did prioritise care, provided that the service was both physically and emotionally welcoming. Trustworthiness of healthcare providers and strong relationships with patients were the most important factors for encouraging sustained engagement overtime. Conclusions: Responsibility for sustaining relationships does not rest solely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Rather, healthcare providers need to commit to the process of building and maintaining relationships. Implications: First and foremost healthcare providers should take time to establish and then maintain relationships. Healthcare services can also contribute by ensuring facilities are welcoming for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-541
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Dec 2016


  • Indigenous health
  • chronic disease
  • primary health care
  • service delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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