Built Environments and Cardiometabolic Morbidity and Mortality in Remote Indigenous Communities in the Northern Territory, Australia

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Abstract

The health of Indigenous Australians is dramatically poorer than that of the non-Indigenous population. Amelioration of these differences has proven difficult. In part, this is attributable to a conceptualisation which approaches health disparities from the perspective of individual-level health behaviours, less so the environmental conditions that shape collective health behaviours. This ecological study investigated associations between the built environment and cardiometabolic mortality and morbidity in 123 remote Indigenous communities representing 104 Indigenous locations (ILOC) as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The presence of infrastructure and/or community buildings was used to create a cumulative exposure score (CES). Records of cardiometabolic-related deaths and health service interactions for the period 2010-2015 were sourced from government department records. A quasi-Poisson regression model was used to assess the associations between built environment "healthfulness" (CES, dichotomised) and cardiometabolic-related outcomes. Low relative to high CES was associated with greater rates of cardiometabolic-related morbidity for two of three morbidity measures (relative risk (RR) 2.41-2.54). Cardiometabolic-related mortality was markedly greater (RR 4.56, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.74-11.93) for low-CES ILOCs. A lesser extent of "healthful" building types and infrastructure is associated with greater cardiometabolic-related morbidity and mortality in remote Indigenous locations. Attention to environments stands to improve remote Indigenous health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2020

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