Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's domains of wellbeing: A comprehensive literature review

Tamara L. Butler, Kate Anderson, Gail Garvey, Joan Cunningham, Julie Ratcliffe, Allison Tong, Lisa J. Whop, Alan Cass, Michelle Dickson, Kirsten Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


There are significant health and social disparities between the world's Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on factors likely to influence quality of life (QOL) and wellbeing. However, these disparities in wellbeing are not captured in conventional QOL instruments, as they often do not include dimensions that are likely to be relevant to Indigenous people. The objective of this comprehensive literature review was to identify these wellbeing domains for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia (hereafter, respectfully referred to collectively as Indigenous Australians). We searched PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Econlit, CINAHL, and Embase (from inception to June 2017, and updated in March 2019), and grey literature sources using keywords relating to adult Indigenous Australians' QOL and wellbeing. From 278 full-text articles assessed for eligibility, 95 were included in a thematic analysis. This synthesis revealed nine broad interconnected wellbeing dimensions: autonomy, empowerment and recognition; family and community; culture, spirituality and identity; Country; basic needs; work, roles and responsibilities; education; physical health; and mental health. The findings suggest domains of wellbeing relevant to and valued by Indigenous Australians that may not be included in existing QOL and wellbeing instruments, domains that may be shared with Indigenous populations globally. This indicates the need for a tailored wellbeing instrument that includes factors relevant to Indigenous Australians. Developing such an instrument will ensure meaningful, culturally-relevant measurement of Indigenous Australians' wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-157
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Australian
  • Comprehensive literature review
  • Domains
  • First Nations
  • Indigenous Australians
  • Quality of life
  • Wellbeing


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