Implementing Interventions to Improve Health Communication Equity for First Nations People: Guidance from a Rapid Realist Review

Judith Lovell, Louise Ann Clark

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Effective communication is critical for engagement between clients and health professionals, transfer of health information and health decision-making. Internationally, there is recognition that if health communication interventions were successfully implemented, then health communication equity would improve. This rapid realist review was undertaken with the aim of providing guidance on the circumstances in which communication interventions were likely to work in regional health service settings accessed by First Nations people from remote and very remote geographic areas of Australia. The realist review involved a process of searching literature on key terms and the identification of relevant studies and policies by a content expert group, including non-Indigenous and First Nations health researchers. Evidence was extracted to inform and synthesize into guiding principles, using a realist perspective. This review identified studies that provided evidence from 37 Australian and international settings where the dominant language and culture of the health sector differs from that of the majority of service users. A number of guiding principles were synthesized: 1) to build trust and respect by inclusion of an individual patient’s cultural perspective; 2) to enhance concordant understanding of health information through two-way health literacies and learning; 3) to recognize the entanglement of health communication equity with regional socio-cultural and health determinants. This review generated realist informed guiding principles to suggest how and under what conditions health communication interventions can enable healthcare decision-making at an individual and service level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-562
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Communication: international perspectives
Issue number8
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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