Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is generally the worst of any population group in Australia. Inaccessibility to health services is one possible cause of this. Shared medical appointments (SMAs) appear to be a culturally competent and appropriate way of improving access to, and the quality of, primary healthcare services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Objective: The objective of this article is to assess the acceptability and appropriateness of SMAs as an adjunct process in primary care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.
Methods: As part of a broader study on SMAs, three SMA sessions were delivered at an Aboriginal men’s health centre in northern New South Wales. One-day training sessions in SMA facilitation were also provided to two groups of 12-14 Aboriginal health workers (AHWs). Mixed methods were used to assess patient and provider satisfaction, subjective outcomes, and operational procedures in the SMA groups, as well as interest in the SMA process by AHWs.
Results: Satisfaction with SMAs among Aboriginal men was unanimously positive, with the numbers in the group increasing over time. Patients most enjoyed the ‘yarn up’ nature of SMAs with peer support, which reduced the ‘scary’ and culturally ‘unnatural’ nature of one-on-one consultations with a general practitioner (GP). AHWs who were trained to a level to conduct SMAs saw this as an effective way of improving cultural competence in, and accessibility of, their various Aboriginal health services.
Discussion: The results, though not generalisable, suggest that SMAs may offer a culturally safe and appropriate tool to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ access to primary care.
The information contained on this website has been sourced by the Australian Indigenous Psychology Education Project (AIPEP) and AIPEP 2. The first AIPEP was funded by the Australian Government Office of Teaching and Learning. AIPEP 2 is part of the Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing Project, funded by the Million Minds Mission Grant. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office of Teaching and Learning or the Million Minds Mission Grant.
Several of the images used throughout this website are credited to Chris Lewis