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Measuring emotional and social wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations: an analysis of a Negative Life Events Scale

Kowal, Emma, Gunthorpe, Wendy and Bailie, Ross S. (2007). Measuring emotional and social wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations: an analysis of a Negative Life Events Scale. International Journal for Equity in Health,6(1):18-29.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Measuring emotional and social wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations: an analysis of a Negative Life Events Scale
Author Kowal, Emma
Gunthorpe, Wendy
Bailie, Ross S.
Journal Name International Journal for Equity in Health
Publication Date 2007
Volume Number 6
Issue Number 1
ISSN 1475-9276   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 18
End Page 29
Total Pages 12
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central Ltd.
Abstract Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians experience widespread socioeconomic disadvantage and health inequality. In an attempt to make Indigenous health research more culturally-appropriate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have called for more attention to the concept of emotional and social wellbeing (ESWB). Although it has been widely recognised that ESWB is of crucial importance to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there is little consensus on how to measure in Indigenous populations, hampering efforts to better understand and improve the psychosocial determinants of health. This paper explores the policy and political context to this situation, and suggests ways to move forward.

The second parof the paper explores how scales can be evaluated in a health research setting, including assessments of endorsement, discrimination, internal and external reliability. We then evaluate the use of a measure of stressful life events, the Negative Life Events Scale (NLES), in two samples of Aboriginal people living in remote communities in the Northern Territory of Australia. We argue that the Negative Life Events Scale is a promising assessment of psychosocial wellbeing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. Evaluation of the scale and its performance in other samples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations is imperative if we hope to develop better, rather than more, scales for measuring ESWB among Indigenous Australians. Only then will it be possible to establish standardized methods of measuring ESWB and develop a body of comparable literature that can guide both a better understanding of ESWB, and evaluation of interventions designed to improve the psychosocial health of Indigenous populations and decrease health inequalities.
Keywords emotional and social wellbeing (ESWB)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
socioeconomic disadvantage
health inequality
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-9276-6-18   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)


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