Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Accordingly, the provision of culturally safe and effective smoking cessation strategies are crucial. While previous research has suggested Aboriginal Health Workers/Practitioners are well placed to provide smoking cessation care, no research to date has explored the workforce knowledge, attitudes and practices in offering best practice cessation care.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among Aboriginal Health Workers/Practitioners from June to September 2021. Descriptive and inferential statistics were conducted to examine participant characteristics, provision of smoking cessation care, and explore the factors associated with smoking cessation care.
Out of 1052 registered Aboriginal Health Workers/Practitioners, 256 participants completed the full survey (24.3%). Smoking cessation counselling was always provided by 41.9%; provided some of the time by 42.4%, and never provided by 12.9%. Combination NRT and Quitline referral were always offered by 23.1% and 44.9% of participants respectively. Those that received training, felt smoking cessation care was part of their role, and were based in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation were significantly more likely to offer best practice smoking cessation care.
Aboriginal Health Workers/Practitioners and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations play a critical role in delivering high quality, evidence based and culturally safe care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal Health Workers/Practitioners are well placed to offer smoking cessation care. Ongoing funding and implementation of a targeted smoking cessation workforce with appropriate training and resources are urgently required.
Aboriginal Health Workers/Practitioners are well placed to offer culturally safe, best practice smoking cessation care. However, due to the magnitude and complexity of Aboriginal Health Workers/Practitioners roles, it is challenging for smoking cessation care to be consistently and feasibly integrated into usual care. Acknowledging Australia’s National Preventative Health Strategy target of 27% or less Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people smoking by 2030, urgent investment and resourcing must be directed to building a skilled workforce to support quitting and maintaining smokefree behaviours, ensuring equitable access to smoking cessation care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.