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Risk of severe illness from COVID-19 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults: the construct of 'vulnerable populations' obscures the root causes of health inequities

Citation

Thurber, KA and Barrett, EM and Agostino, J and Chamberlain, C and Ward, J and Wade, V and Belfrage, M and Maddox, R and Peiris, D and Walker, J and Baffour, B and Wenitong, M and Law, C and Senior, T and Priest, N and Freeman, K and Schramm, T, Risk of severe illness from COVID-19 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults: the construct of 'vulnerable populations' obscures the root causes of health inequities, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 45, (6) pp. 658-663. ISSN 1326-0200 (2021) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1111/1753-6405.13172

Abstract

Objective: To quantify the prevalence of known health-related risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, and their relationship with social determinants.

Methods: Weighted cross-sectional analysis of the 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey; Odds Ratios for cumulative risk count category (0, 1, or ≥2 health-related risk factors) by social factors calculated using ordered logistic regression.

Results: Of the adult population, 42.9%(95%CI:40.6,45.2) had none of the examined health-related risk factors; 38.9%(36.6,41.1) had 1, and 18.2%(16.7,19.7) had ≥2. Adults experiencing relative advantage across social indicators had significantly lower cumulative risk counts, with 30-70% lower odds of being in a higher risk category.

Conclusions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must continue to be recognised as a priority population in all stages of pandemic preparedness and response as they have disproportionate exposure to social factors associated with risk of severe COVID-19 illness. Indigeneity itself is not a 'risk' factor and must be viewed in the wider context of inequities that impact health Implications for public health: Multi-sectoral responses are required to improve health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic that: enable self-determination; improve incomes, safety, food security and culturally-safe healthcare; and address discrimination and trauma.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:COVID-19, racism, risk factors, social determinants of health
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health and wellbeing
Objective Division:Indigenous
Objective Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
Objective Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status and outcomes
UTAS Author:Schramm, T (Dr Tanya Schramm)
ID Code:151712
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2022-08-03
Last Modified:2022-08-03
Downloads:0

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