30 November 2023

New First Nations resources for OA, RA, SLE and gout

Gout Indigenous Health Lupus Osteoarthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Australia has launched a set of videos and brochures aimed at making arthritis information accessible, relatable and actionable for Aboriginal Australians living with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout.

The project, called Staying Moving Staying Strong, is underpinned by the principle of cultural security. Developed over three years, it has involved a rigorous review of clinical practice guidelines and strong engagement with Aboriginal community members.

Rates of arthritis and autoimmune conditions are higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples than other Australians, with a prevalence of 17% versus 13% for non-Aboriginal Australians.

Arthritis Australia points out they also experience poorer access to healthcare, with Australia’s First Nations people half as likely to access primary care or to receive hip or knee replacement surgery to address osteoarthritis than non-Aboriginal people.

“Culturally appropriate information, communication and healthcare delivery are essential to improving health and wellbeing outcomes,” it says.

Brooke Conley, a physiotherapist and PhD candidate, presented the protocol for Staying Moving Staying Strong, published in PLoS One, at the ARA ASM in 2022.

“There are currently no resources for consumers that have been designed specifically with cultural security in mind for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, informed through a research process in musculoskeletal care,” project manager Jennifer Persaud told Rheumatology Republic at the time.

“The final output will be resources that are informed by Aboriginal people and Aboriginal health experts. And they will be accessible to Aboriginal consumers and delivered in a format that they tell us they want it in.”

The brochures cover information about osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout in plain language, including symptoms and how to manage them, with real examples of how different people might experience them. The information is practical and also acknowledges the potential role of traditional bush medicine.

The short videos feature insights from people with the different conditions, including how the condition affects their day-to-day life and how they manage it.

Arthritis Australia CEO Jonathan Smithers said in a press release, “The Staying Moving Staying Strong resources are an important step towards providing better health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with these often debilitating conditions.

“We are incredibly proud of the work of the project team and grateful for the contribution of Aboriginal community members.”

The resources were developed by the Staying Moving Staying Strong project team, in partnership with Arthritis and Osteoporosis Western Australia, with the support of Arthritis Australia and funding from the Commonwealth Government.

The Staying Moving Staying Strong team comprises Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health practitioners, health service staff and research leaders.

Team member Brooke Conley, a Ngiyampaa woman, physiotherapist and PhD candidate, said “My involvement in Staying Moving Staying Strong has been extremely rewarding, and I hope to see the resources benefiting Aboriginal people by empowering individuals with knowledge and fostering self-management.”

Staying Moving Staying Strong resources for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout are available here.