Changes in exposure to 'life stressors' in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, 2002 to 2008

Matthew Stevens, Yin Paradies

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Background: The Negative Life Events Scale (NLES) has been included in nationally representative surveys of the Indigenous and Australian population since 2002 as a measure of exposure to a range of 'life stressors'. There has been limited reporting or analysis of estimates of the NLES from these surveys. This paper reports changes in exposure to stressors from 2002 to 2008 for the Indigenous population, and examines inter-relationships between eleven NLES items. Data for the 2006 Australian population is also included for comparative purposes.

    Methods: Data from the 2002 and 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Surveys (NATSISS) and the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS) were accessed from the Australia Bureau of Statistics in order to determine significant changes in exposure to stressors for the 2002 and 2008 Indigenous population by remoteness and to compare this with the 2006 Australian population. Factor analysis was used to assess the inter-relationships between stressors for the Indigenous and Australian population by remoteness.

    Results: In remote locations, between 2002 and 2008, exposure to life stressors decreased significantly for the Indigenous population across seven of the eleven stressors. In non-remote locations, exposure to four of the stressors increased significantly. Exposure to stressors in the 2002 and 2008 non-remote Indigenous population were significantly higher than those for the 2006 Australian population for all items, except 'alcohol and/or drug problems' and 'trouble with the police', which showed no evidence of a difference. The factor analysis of the NLES for the 2002 and 2008 remote and non-remote Indigenous populations and the 2006 Australian population showed a consistent clustering of items into three groups: social transgressions; grief and trauma; and labour market stressors.

    Conclusions: The reduction in exposure to life stressors for the remote Indigenous population may be related to policy and practice changes (e.g. more police, income quarantining, housing construction). The differential change in exposure to life stressors between remote and non-remote locations highlights the importance of presenting data for these geographic locations separately.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number144
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalBMC Public Health
    Volume14
    Issue number144
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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