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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Racism and health among urban Aboriginal young people

Naomi Priest1*, Yin Paradies1, Paul Stewart23 and Joanne Luke3

Author Affiliations

1 McCaughey Centre and Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

2 Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

3 Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:568  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-568

Published: 15 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Racism has been identified as an important determinant of health but few studies have explored associations between racism and health outcomes for Australian Aboriginal young people in urban areas.

Methods

Cross sectional data from participants aged 12-26 years in Wave 1 of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service's Young People's Project were included in hierarchical logistic regression models. Overall mental health, depression and general health were all considered as outcomes with self-reported racism as the exposure, adjusting for a range of relevant confounders.

Results

Racism was reported by a high proportion (52.3%) of participants in this study. Self-reported racism was significantly associated with poor overall mental health (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.25-5.70, p = 0.01) and poor general health (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.03-4.57, p = 0.04), and marginally associated with increased depression (OR 2.0; 95% CI 0.97-4.09, p = 0.06) in the multivariate models. Number of worries and number of friends were both found to be effect modifiers for the association between self-reported racism and overall mental health. Getting angry at racist remarks was found to mediate the relationship between self-reported racism and general health.

Conclusions

This study highlights the need to acknowledge and address racism as an important determinant of health and wellbeing for Aboriginal young people in urban areas of Australia.