Recent studies have unearthed a disproportionately high prevalence of painful and disabling musculoskeletal conditions in Indigenous people compared with non-Indigenous Australians. These conditions are thought to be overshadowed by more notable causes of mortality including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and death from road trauma.
Though previously under-reported, musculoskeletal conditions commonly treated by chiropractors are thought to impact substantially on the quality of life experienced by Indigenous Australians. These conditions are further complicated by the burden imposed by a range of socio-economic hardship, geographical and cultural barriers.
If a person living in economic hardship and/or in a rural or remote community is injured or suffers from a chronic, disabling condition, she or he is often unable to readily access the appropriate tactile therapies such as chiropractic, massage therapy, osteopathy or physiotherapy required in order to manage their condition(s). There are also important philosophical similarities between healthcare as traditionally practiced in Aboriginal communities and tactile therapies such as chiropractic care.
This article describes the development of a community-based chiropractic program, delivered in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services which was informed by a community advisory group in all phases of its evolution including its development, implementation and the delivery of health services and interventions. It demonstrates the importance of listening and learning from each other`s experience in helping to achieve sustainable and culturally sensitive health outcomes for Indigenous communities. It describes an evolving model with potential to be adapted in other Indigenous communities. Evaluating the program`s development and shortcomings through participatory action research is designed to ensure that it is sensitive and responsive to the Indigenous community that it serves.
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