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Health Promot Int. 2008 Mar;23(1):52-9. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Using qualitative methodology to inform an Indigenous-owned oral health promotion initiative in Australia.

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  • 1Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.


Indigenous Australians experience poor oral health. Oral health perceptions among a group of rural-dwelling Indigenous Australians were explored so that a culturally appropriate, community-owned oral health promotion initiative might be developed. Focus group methodology was used, with prompt questions including oral health knowledge, oral health's role in general health, how community oral health had changed in recent times, the causes of poor oral health and ways to prevent poor oral health at a community level. Some 34 participants took part; age range 21-72 years. A core category emerged from the data and was labelled 'cultural adaptation'. Five sub-categories were also identified; 'lifestyle changes', 'oral health behaviours', 'barriers to dental care', 'impact of poor oral health' and 'oral health literacy'. Participants felt that historical legacy impacted on the oral health of community members, through continued practices of being told what to do, where to live and what oral health services were available to them. Participants perceived they had little power over their oral health or oral health care decisions. Findings from the focus group discussions were used in the development of a context-specific, oral health promotion initiative, which involved construction of an audiovisual tool in Phase I and a series of interactive, context-specific seminars focused on key issues raised in the focus groups in Phase II. Oral health promotion initiatives among rural-dwelling Indigenous Australians may be more successful if perceptions of the anticipated audience are considered in the design stage of such strategies.

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