Self-Reported Diabetes and Health Behaviors in Remote Indigenous Communities in Northern Queensland, Australia
- Brad McCulloch, BSC, GDIPCOMPSCI12,
- Robyn McDermott, MB, BS, MPH12,
- Geoff Miller, BSC12,
- Dympna Leonard, MPH1,
- Michelle Elwell, GDIPDIABED1 and
- Reinhold Muller, PHD2
- 1Tropical Public Health Unit Network, Queensland Health, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
- 2School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia
OBJECTIVE—This study examines associations between self-reported diabetes and self-reported smoking, alcohol consumption, fruit consumption, and participation in adequate exercise in remote indigenous communities, using data from the Well Persons’ Health Check (WPHC).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—The WPHC was a cross-sectional survey of 2,862 indigenous individuals (1,602 Aborigines, 1,074 Torres Strait Islanders, and 186 persons of joint descent) aged ≥15 years. The study was conducted in 26 remote communities in northern Queensland, Australia, between March 1998 and October 2000.
RESULTS—A total of 32% of individuals with self-reported diabetes and 25% of other individuals reported eating enough fruit, according to National Health and Medical Research Council criteria: odds ratio (OR) 1.407 (95% CI 1.108–1.786), P = 0.006. After adjustment for age, sex, and ethnicity, no significant difference could be observed: adjusted OR 1.22 (0.944–1.574), P = 0.128. A total of 58% of participants who reported diabetes and 51% of others reported adequate exercise: OR 0.761 (0.609–0.952), P = 0.018. This difference was not significant after adjustment for age, sex, and ethnicity: adjusted OR 0.896 (0.705–1.14), P = 0.370. A total of 43% of individuals who reported diabetes and 72% of others reported consuming alcohol: OR 0.295 (0.235–0.369), P < 0.001. After adjustment for age, sex, and ethnicity, this difference was still significant: adjusted OR 0.550 (0.428–0.709), P < 0.001. Diabetic drinkers consumed alcohol at harmful levels similar to those of nondiabetic drinkers (P = 0.691). A total of 40% of individuals who reported diabetes and 63% of other persons were tobacco smokers: OR 0.403 (0.322–0.505), P < 0.001. Although this crude difference was attenuated by adjustment for age, sex, and ethnicity, persons with self-reported diabetes were still significantly less likely to smoke tobacco than other participants: adjusted OR 0.666 (0.521–0.852), P = 0.001. Smoking prevalence among the diabetic indigenous participants was more than double that in nondiabetic nonindigenous Australians.
CONCLUSIONS—This study suggests that indigenous individuals with diabetes living in rural and remote communities are not adopting lifestyle changes required for optimal self-management of the disease. This contributes to the large excess of mortality and morbidity experienced by this population.
- AusDiab, Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study
- OR, odds ratio
- NHS, National Health Survey
- STI, sexually transmissible infection
- WPHC, Well Persons’ Health Check
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Brad McCulloch, Tropical Public Health Unit Network, Queensland Health, P.O. Box 1103, Cairns Queensland 4870, Australia. E-mail:.
Received for publication 27 May 2002 and accepted in revised form 24 October 2002.
A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.
- DIABETES CARE