Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Good methodology in analysis of data on Indigenous health and wellbeing (#55)

Ray Lovett 1 , Katherine Thurber 1 , Maggie Walter 2 , Naomi Priest 1
  1. Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
  2. School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas, Australia

Background: Dominant quantitative methodologies often measure and describe health inequalities without providing further analysis concerning how to intervene. In Australia this leads to persistent assigning of statistical deficit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, peoples, nations and nationhood, largely embedding stereotypes of deficiency across each aforementioned strata. Intersectionality theory emphasises the need for statistical analyses to highlight mechanisms and potential levers of intervention to address health inequalities rather than repeatedly doing observational analyses that document inequality but don’t offer potential solutions, and thereby reinforce perceptions of their intractable nature at the individual, policy and programme level.

Aims: This presentation aims to highlight appropriate theory and practice concerning analysis and presentation and representation of data about Indigenous health and wellbeing.

Discussion: First, intersectionality theory will be discussed to highlight the pejorative effects of current statistical production and reporting and to help us move beyond the current approach. Second, we discuss a methodological framework as described by Walter and Andersen ‘nayri kati’ (good numbers) that embodies Indigenous views into current statistical production, allowing different insights. Thirdly, we present statistical case studies to demonstrate the impact of different approaches. Examples include methods that assist with defining research questions from the right frame or standpoint, examining exposures associated with positive or normative outcomes vs. negative outcomes (e.g. good health instead of poor health), and selecting reference groups in order to identify protective (rather than risk) factors. We will present case studies to demonstrate the impact of applying these methodologies in appropriate circumstances. We invite discussion of other approaches and considerations.

We hope to encourage and demonstrate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities, researchers and policymakers the theory and methodologies that avoid the deficit discourse, provide evidence to intervene without compromising statistical rigour.

Conclusion: Utilising intersectionality to move beyond current thinking and the use of methodologies that encourage Indigenous approaches can be applied to shape a more positive discourse, without requiring a change to the underlying statistical methods or data source.