Deadly Choices – improving the health of indigenous youth

Deadly Choices is an education program that was run recently to see if it was an effective means of improving knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of urban indigenous youth regarding chronic diseases. It was delivered weekly at six facilities across Brisbane to participants from grades 7 to 12 over seven weeks. Each session contained about 90 minutes of ice-breaker activities, educational components and physical activities. The program covered modules such as leadership, nutrition, physical activity, chronic disease, smoking, health services and harmful substances.

One school that received the Deadly Choices program the following term acted as a control group. The findings of the research to see if the program was effective showed that overall, there were few significant differences between the control and intervention groups regarding health attitudes and behaviours; however, there were considerably more improvements relating to self-efficacy and knowledge of chronic disease and associated risk factors between groups.

Why are programs like Deadly Choices required?

Indigenous Australians experience higher rates of chronic disease than the average across Australia. These chronic diseases cause about 70% of the health gap between the non-indigenous and the indigenous groups in the nation. It is reported that the young of the indigenous population are more prone to treatable and preventable diseases like recurring infections, oral & ear diseases and also have a higher rate of chronic diseases when they reach their adulthood. The ages at which the indigenous get affected by chronic diseases are also much lower than that of non-indigenous people. Some of the risk factors that are related to chronic disease are alcohol misuse, smoking, poor nutrition, poor physical activities and obesity. The economy and social determination also play a crucial part in the burden related to these chronic diseases amongst the population. Check out our guest article from Harry Pitt, an indigenous Australian working in the Closing the Gap program at his Medicare Local.

Click here for the research on the Deadly Choices program. Click here for more news about the Australian health industry. Image credit: mark roy – flickr.

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