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Socio-demographic factors and psychological distress in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian adults aged 18-64 years: analysis of national survey data

Cunningham, Joan and Paradies, Yin C 2012, Socio-demographic factors and psychological distress in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian adults aged 18-64 years: analysis of national survey data, BMC public health, vol. 12, pp. 1-15, doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-95.

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Title Socio-demographic factors and psychological distress in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian adults aged 18-64 years: analysis of national survey data
Author(s) Cunningham, Joan
Paradies, Yin CORCID iD for Paradies, Yin C orcid.org/0000-0001-9927-7074
Journal name BMC public health
Volume number 12
Article ID 95
Start page 1
End page 15
Total pages 15
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2012
ISSN 1471-2458
1471-2458
Keyword(s) Activities of Daily Living
Adolescent
Adult
Australia
Female
Health Services, Indigenous
Humans
Male
Middle Aged
Oceanic Ancestry Group
Prevalence
Psychological Tests
Risk Factors
Rural Population
Social Class
Socioeconomic Factors
Stress, Psychological
Summary Background
Indigenous Australians are known to be at greater risk of morbidity and mortality from mental health related conditions, but most available data relate to the use of mental health services, and little is known about other aspects of social and emotional wellbeing. Using the first available nationally representative data, we examined the prevalence and patterning of psychological distress among Indigenous Australian adults and compared these with corresponding data from the non-Indigenous population.

Methods
The analysis used weighted data on psychological distress, as measured by a modified Kessler Psychological Distress score (K5), and a range of socio-demographic measures for 5,417 Indigenous and 15,432 non-Indigenous adults aged 18-64 years from two nationally representative surveys. Very high psychological distress (VHPD) was defined as a K5 score ≥ 15 (possible range = 5-25).

Results
Indigenous adults were about three times more likely than non-Indigenous adults to be classified with VHPD: 14.5% (95% confidence interval (CI) 12.9-16.0%) versus 5.5% (95% CI 5.0-5.9%). After adjusting for age, most socio-demographic variables were significantly associated with VHPD in both populations, although the relative odds were generally larger among non-Indigenous people. Indigenous people in remote areas had a lower prevalence of VHPD than their non-remote counterparts, and only marital status, main language, and food insecurity were significantly associated with VHPD in remote areas.

Conclusions

Higher absolute levels of VHPD combined with smaller socio-demographic gradients in the Indigenous population suggest the importance of risk factors such as interpersonal racism, marginalization and dispossession, chronic stress and exposure to violence that are experienced by Indigenous Australians with common and/or cross-cutting effects across the socioeconomic spectrum. The lower prevalence of VHPD and lack of association with many socio-demographic variables in remote areas suggests either that the instrument may be less valid for Indigenous people living in remote areas or that living in an Indigenous majority environment (such as exists in most remote communities) may mitigate the risk of psychological distress to some degree.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-12-95
Field of Research 1117 Public Health And Health Services
Socio Economic Objective 0 Not Applicable
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Cunningham and Paradies
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30093541

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.