Identifying psychosocial mediators of health amongst Indigenous Australians for the Heart Health Project

Rachel E. Reilly, Joyce Doyle, Di Bretherton, Kevin G. Rowley, Jirra L. Harvey, Paul Briggs, Sharon Charles, Julie Calleja, Rochelle Patten, Vicki Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. The Heart Health Project is an ongoing community-directed health promotion programme encompassing the collection of health-related data and interventions promoting cardiovascular health. Following research which has emphasised the importance of psychological factors including mastery, or personal control, in mitigating cardiovascular health outcomes, this qualitative study explored whether such constructs were relevant from Indigenous perspectives, or whether there were other, more meaningful and relevant psychosocial factors identified by participants that should be incorporated into models of Indigenous health and which could be effective targets for change. Design. The study fits within the broader participatory action research design of the Heart Health Project. Data comprised 30 in-depth interviews with members of a rural Aboriginal community in south-eastern Australia to identify psychosocial factors relevant to their health. Interviews were semi-structured and carried out by two interviewers, one Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal. Qualitative analysis using QN6 software resulted in a number of salient themes and sub-themes. These are summarised using extracts from the data. Results/Conclusions. Five major themes and 15 sub-themes emerged from data analysis. The findings indicated that while a sense of control may be one factor impacting on health and health behaviours, there were other factors that participants spoke about more readily that have specific relevance to the social and cultural context of Indigenous health. These included history, relationship with mainstream and connectedness. These may be worthy of further empirical investigation and are likely to assist in the design of community health promotion interventions for Aboriginal people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-373
Number of pages23
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Indigenous health
  • Mastery
  • Participatory research
  • Psychosocial determinants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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