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Aust Fam Physician. 2008 Dec;37(12):1033-8.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments - barriers to improving uptake.

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Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.



This study investigated the reasons for low uptake of Medicare Benefits Schedule rebated health assessments for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in mainstream general practice in the Australian Capital Territory region.


Surveys gauging attitudes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues were completed by 145 general practitioners, practice and division staff, and semistructured interviews were conducted with 16 staff members from nine general practices.


Survey responses indicated concerns about introducing routine identification processes for all patients. Interviews showed low levels of identification and significant barriers to change.


Barriers to the uptake of health assessments include low levels of routine identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, little awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific GP mediated health interventions, and lack of support for preventive health interventions targeted on the basis of Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander status. Poor uptake is likely to persist without a more strategic approach to overcoming these barriers.

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