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Literacy And Self-Reported Oral Health Outcomes

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The Aboriginal definition of health focus on a holistic approach to body, mind, culture, community, land, spirit, and environmental wellbeing that an individual exist in and is able to  realize full potential as a person. The Aboriginal definition of health also emphasize on community by connecting to culture and country (Parker, & Jamieson, 2010) 

The Aboriginal definition of health differ from the WHO’s definition. WHO define health as complete mental, physical, and social wellbeing of an individual and not mere absence of disease. The WHO definition of health does not include environmental, land and cultural well-being (Australian Institute of Health 2012).

The Aboriginal health approach differs from my conceptualization of health. To me, health is personal and an individual unwell-being does not cause other individuals to be unwell simply because they belong to same community. I don’t also see any connection between land and health of an individual which is different to Aboriginal’s people where connecting to country and culture is part of their well-being.

Health professionals should take a holistic approach when working with indigenous populations. The most influential factor that health professionals should consider is the indigenous people culture. Culture influence how indigenous people make decisions about why and when to seek health services, acceptance of treatment, adherence to treatment, and health prevention and promotion strategy.


There exist health outcome differences between Indigenous and non –indigenous people of Australia. First, it the female indigenous Australians life expectancy that is 73.7 years below 83.1 years life expectancy for non-indigenous Australians. Male indigenous Australians have a life expectancy of 69.1 years below 79.7 years for male non-indigenous Australians. Secondly, the children born by indigenous mothers die at more twice rate compared to non-indigenous born children. In terms of mortality, indigenous people are 5 times likely to die compared to non indigenous Australians. Among non-indigenous people, 81% of their deaths occur after 65 years of age compared to 35% of Indigenous people deaths in the same age bracket (Vos, et al., 2009). The fourth key health outcome difference is alcohol and substance abuse. 5 more Indigenous Australians die as a result of substance abuse as compared to non indigenous Australians. 60% of Indigenous alcohol drinkers report alcohol harm as compared to 35% of non-indigenous Australian drinkers. Another key health outcome is mental health problems. 30% indigenous Australians suffer psychological distress as compared to non-indigenous people. It also reported that 12.4% of Aboriginal people aged 45 years and above do have dementia while it only 2.6% of non- indigenous people of Australia suffer from the same condition (Gracey, & King, 2009). 

I think the existence of health outcome differences between non-indigenous and indigenous Australians is approach to health and historical events. Indigenous people suffer because of the nature of their culture that is connected to community, land, and environment different to non-indigenous Australians culture. Historical events either from the governments or Europeans did not respect the indigenous people culture an approach to health.

Colonial practices had major detrimental effects to indigenous people health. They include; racism and discrimination, alienation of indigenous people from their ancestral land, destruction of the environment, separating children from their parents, and locking different communities in the same reserve camps which alienated indigenous people culture.



Australian Institute of Health. (2012). Australia's Health 2012: In Brief. AIHW.

Gracey, M., & King, M. (2009). Indigenous health part 1: determinants and disease patterns. The Lancet, 374(9683), 65-75.

Parker, E. J., & Jamieson, L. M. (2010). Associations between indigenous Australian oral health literacy and self-reported oral health outcomes. BMC Oral health, 10(1), 3.

Vos, T., Barker, B., Begg, S., Stanley, L., & Lopez, A. D. (2009). Burden of disease and injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: the Indigenous health gap. International journal of epidemiology, 38(2), 470-477.

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