Indigenous men interested in health – but feel services don’t meet their needs

Dr Canuto suggested Indigenous men should be asked what they want out of their primary health care system. Photo supplied by South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

A post-doctoral research fellow with the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity Unit has suggested health care professionals should ask Indigenous men how they want to use health services.

Dr Kootsy Canuto is based at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide.

Dr Canuto recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia that Indigenous men are not participating in events related to primary health care services even with high levels of staff effort.

“This failed attempt to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men of a community to attend a health event is an all too common occurrence,” Dr Canuto wrote.

“The intended audience did not arrive, and the event failed to attract the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who are disengaged from their health.”

Dr Canuto also said Indigenous men are interested in their health but feel primary health services are not meeting their needs.

“Health services must be willing to ask the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men of their community how they want to utilise the service and how it, in turn, can better accommodate and respond to their hopes, wants and needs,” Dr Canuto said.

The research fellow said health services must also take the appropriate steps to make changes that will improve access and outcomes of Indigenous men’s health.

“On the surface and from a distance, it may appear that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are not interested in their health … [this] cannot be further from the truth,” Dr Canuto said.

Dr Canuto said it would take a collaborative effort from all parties to develop and implement strategies to improve engagement as well as sustaining and evaluating that engagement.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men have the answers; however, it is unrealistic to expect them to improve their current situation alone.”

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