Association of Built Environmental Features with Rates of Infectious Diseases in Remote Indigenous Communities in the Northern Territory, Australia

Amal Chakraborty, Victor Maduabuchi Oguoma, Neil T. Coffee, Peter Markey, Alwin Chong, Margaret Cargo, Mark Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


The health of Indigenous Australians is far poorer than non-Indigenous Australians, including an excess burden of infectious diseases. The health effect of built environmental (BE) features on Indigenous communities receives little attention. This study’s objective was to determine associations between BE features and infectious disease incidence rates in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory (NT), Australia. Remote Indigenous communities (n = 110) were spatially joined to 93 Indigenous Locations (ILOC). Outcomes data were extracted (NT Notifiable Diseases System) and expressed as ILOC-specific incidence rates. Counts of buildings were extracted from community asset maps and grouped by function. Age-adjusted infectious disease rates were dichotomised, and bivariate binomial regression used to determine the relationships between BE variables and infectious disease. Infrastructure Shelter BE features were universally associated with significantly elevated disease outcomes (relative risk 1.67 to 2.03). Significant associations were observed for Services, Arena, Community, Childcare, Oval, and Sports and recreation BE features. BE groupings associated with disease outcomes were those with communal and/or social design intent or use. Comparable BE groupings without this intent or use did not associate with disease outcomes. While discouraging use of communal BE features during infectious disease outbreaks is a conceptually valid countermeasure, communal activities have additional health benefits themselves, and infectious disease transmission could instead be reduced through repairs to infrastructure, and more infrastructure. This is the first study to examine these associations simultaneously in more than a handful of remote Indigenous communities to illustrate community-level rather than aggregated population-level associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number173
Number of pages13
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Built environment
  • Communicable diseases
  • Community infrastructure
  • Disease outbreaks
  • Indigenous
  • Infectious diseases
  • Public health
  • Remote community
  • Spatial epidemiology


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