Objectives: The aim of the study was to assess the utility of national Aboriginal survey data in a regional geospatial analysis of daily smoking prevalence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and discuss the appropriateness of this analysis for policy and program impact assessment.
Methods: Data from the last two Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) national surveys of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014-15 (n = 7022 adults) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2012-13 (n = 10 896 adults), were used to map the prevalence of smoking by Indigenous regions.
Results: Daily smoking prevalence in 2014-15 at Indigenous regions ranges from 27.1%(95%CI 18.9-35.3) in the Toowoomba region in Queensland to 68.0%(95%CI 58.1-77.9) in the Katherine region in the Northern Territory. The confidence intervals are wide and there is no significant difference in daily smoking prevalence between the two time periods for any region.
Conclusion: There are significant limitations with analysing national survey data at finer geographical scales. Given the national program for Indigenous tobacco control is a regional model, evaluation requires finer geographical analysis of smoking prevalence to inform public health progress, policy and program effects. Options to improve the data currently collected include increasing national survey sample sizes, implementing a smoking status question in census surveys, investing in current cohort studies focused on this population or implementing localised surveys.