In Australia, Indigenous communities experience poorer health than other Australians and often die at much younger ages. This is due to Indigenous Australians being more likely to have mental health problems, chronic diseases – such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and chronic kidney disease – diseases that are virtually non-existent in the non-Indigenous population, and addiction.
To disrupt these poor health patterns, researchers from Monash University and Flinders University identified how Australian dietitians and nutritionists need to act to make a more positive impact in the communities they serve.
What did the study find?
In-depth interviews with global non-Indigenous nutritionists and dietitians were conducted over six years. This allowed the researchers to gain vital insight into common practices and where the flaws in these methods lay.
The study found six ways in which dietitians could better support these communities to improve general health, these are: fostering relationships, participant reflexivity, an awareness of one’s own practice, assurance and affirmation, connection and commitment, and confidence in new perspectives, skills, and practices.
“The purpose of this study was to really drill down into the community of practice model—which we know works, and find out what elements of its work for whom, and under what conditions,” explains Professor Annabelle Wilson, who worked on the project.
They continued: “With our previous qualitative studies into this approach we were not able to do that, but a realistic evaluation, used in this study, enabled us to capture that detail. This will allow us to apply for funding to roll out this approach more widely, using the conditions in this study, which we know enable it to be successful in improving dietitians’ practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.”
A realistic solution to create real-world change
This study provides realistic solutions that can be implemented by health care professionals to better maneuver and serve intercultural spaces. Hopefully, this research will be taken on board by funding and governmental bodies to improve public health in general, but especially for previously overlooked communities.
Source study: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics – A realist evaluation of a community of practice for dietitians and nutritionists working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health