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Measuring emotional and social wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations: an analysis of a Negative Life Events Scale

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12 pages
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians experience widespread socioeconomic disadvantage and health inequality. In an attempt to make Indigenous health research more culturally-appropriate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have called for more attention to the concept of emotional and social wellbeing (ESWB). Although it has been widely recognised that ESWB is of crucial importance to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there is little consensus on how to measure in Indigenous populations, hampering efforts to better understand and improve the psychosocial determinants of health. This paper explores the policy and political context to this situation, and suggests ways to move forward. The second part of the paper explores how scales can be evaluated in a health research setting, including assessments of endorsement, discrimination, internal and external reliability. We then evaluate the use of a measure of stressful life events, the Negative Life Events Scale (NLES), in two samples of Aboriginal people living in remote communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. We argue that the Negative Life Events Scale is a promising assessment of psychosocial wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Evaluation of the scale and its performance in other samples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations is imperative if we hope to develop better , rather than more , scales for measuring ESWB among Indigenous Australians. Only then will it be possible to establish standardized methods of measuring ESWB and develop a body of comparable literature that can guide both a better understanding of ESWB, and evaluation of interventions designed to improve the psychosocial health of Indigenous populations and decrease health inequalities.
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BioMed CentralPga e 1fo1 (2apegum nr bet nor foaticnoitrup esopterns)InnalatioanloJruqEiuofrHenitythal
Address: 1 Menzies School of Health Research, In stitute of Advanced Studies, Charles Da rwin University, Darwin, Australia and 2 School of Social and Environmental Enquiry, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Email: Emma Kowal* - e.kowal@unimelb.edu.au; We ndy Gunthorpe - wendy.gunthorpe@menzies.edu.au; Ross S Bailie - ross.bailie@menzies.edu.au * Corresponding author
Research Open Access Measuring emotional and social we llbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations: an anal ysis of a Negative Life Events Scale Emma Kowal* 1,2 , Wendy Gunthorpe 1 and Ross S Bailie 1
Abstract Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Austra lians experience widespread socioeconomic disadvantage and health inequality. In an a ttempt to make Indigenous health research more culturally-appropriate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have called for more attention to the concept of emotional and social wellbeing (ESWB). Although it has been widely recognised that ESWB is of crucia l importance to the health of Ab original and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there is little consensus on how to meas ure in Indigenous populat ions, hampering efforts to better understand and improve the psychosocial de terminants of health. This paper explores the policy and political context to this situation, and suggests ways to move forward. The second part of the paper explores how scales can be eval uated in a health research setting, including assessments of endorsement, discriminati on, internal and external reliability. We then evaluate the use of a measure of stress ful life events, the Negative Life Events Scale (NLES), in two samples of Aboriginal people living in remote commu nities in the Northern Territory of Australia. We argue that the Negativ e Life Events Scale is a promising assessment of psychosocial wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Evaluation of the scale and its performance in other samples of Aborigin al and Torres Strait Islander populations is imperative if we hope to develop better , rather than more , scales for measuring ESWB among Indigenous Australians. Only then will it be poss ible to establish standardized methods of measuring ESWB and develop a body of comparable literatu re that can guide both a better understanding of ESWB, and evaluation of interven tions designed to improve the ps ychosocial health of Indigenous populations and decrease health inequalities.
Published: 14 November 2007 Received: 5 April 2007 International Journal for Equity in Health 2007, 6 :18 doi:10.1186/1475-9276-6-18 Accepted: 14 November 2007 This article is available from: http ://www.equityhealthj.com/content/6/1/18 © 2007 Kowal et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the orig inal work is properly cited.
Background: Policy advancements, tralians, and suffer higher rates of nearly every type of methodological problems illness and injury [1,2]. The reasons for these disparities The poor health of Australia's Indigenous people relative are complex, but undoubtedly relate to a history of colo-to the nation's population is well documented. Indige- nisation and ongoing disadvantage. Australia's approxi-nous people on average live 17 years less than other Aus- mately 450,000 Indigenous people, which make up 2.4%