Improving the efficacy of healthcare services for Aboriginal Australians

Kylie Gwynne, Thomas Jeffries, Michelle Lincoln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of the present systematic review was to examine the enablers for effective health service delivery for Aboriginal Australians. Methods: This systematic review was undertaken in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. Papers were included if they had data related to health services for Australian Aboriginal people and were published between 2000 and 2015. The 21 papers that met the inclusion criteria were assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. Seven papers were subsequently excluded due to weak methodological approaches. Results: There were two findings in the present study: (1) that Aboriginal people fare worse than non-Aboriginal people when accessing usual healthcare services; and (2) there are five enablers for effective health care services for Australian Aboriginal people: cultural competence, participation rates, organisational, clinical governance and compliance, and availability of services. Conclusions: Health services for Australian Aboriginal people must be tailored and implementation of the five enablers is likely to affect the effectiveness of health services for Aboriginal people. The findings of the present study have significant implications in directing the future design, funding, delivery and evaluation of health care services for Aboriginal Australians. What is known about the topic?: There is significant evidence about poor health outcomes and the 10-year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, and limited evidence about improving health service efficacy. What does this paper add?: This systematic review found that with usual health care delivery, Aboriginal people experience worse health outcomes. This paper identifies five strategies in the literature that improve the effectiveness of health care services intended for Aboriginal people. What are the implications for practitioners?: Aboriginal people fare worse in both experience and outcomes when they access usual care services. Health services intended for Aboriginal people should be tailored using the five enablers to provide timely, culturally safe and high-quality care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-322
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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