Aboriginal Australians Experience More Racism in Health Settings, Study


Racism in medical environment negatively influences the mental health of aboriginal Australians, according to a study by researchers at the University of Melbourne.

Researchers said that the finding could explain the poor quality of healthcare often reported by aboriginal communities.

For the study, researchers analysed reports on racism in health settings and their impact on mental health of Aboriginal Australians. They then compared the results to racism experiences in other areas including workplaces, education and sport.

The researchers found that 97 percent of the 755 participants experienced at least one racist incident in the past one year in any one of the setting. However, Associate Professor Margaret Kelaher said that nearly one-third of the participants experienced racial discrimination in hospitals and healthcare particularly.

"The most frequent experience of racism in this setting included being a target of racist names, jokes or teasing, or hearing comments that relied on stereotypes of Aboriginal Australians." Ten per cent of respondents indicated that they had been told that they "didn't belong in Australia", that they should "go home" or "get out".

"People who experienced racism in health settings were more likely to experience very high psychological distress, compared with respondents who reported no experiences of racism," Kelaher said in a statement.

Kelaher said that racism in health settings more likely discourage patients to seek health services to protect and promote health. The professor said that effective measures to reduce racial prejudice needs to be undertaken immediately.

The finding is published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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