Despite recent health gains for Australian Aboriginal people their significantly poorer health status compared with that of non-Aboriginal Australians remains significant. Within the context of high levels of mortality and morbidity, research highlights significant barriers to timely health-care, access and safe use of prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. The risks to Aboriginal people's health due to unsafe medication use are preventable. The purpose of this article is to present the findings from qualitative research focused on Aboriginal people's knowledge, use and experience of over-the-counter analgesics. The study was conducted in the north-western metropolitan area of Adelaide, which has the largest urban Aboriginal population in South Australia. The employment of an Aboriginal Elder as Cultural Advisor enabled engagement with Aboriginal participants. Purposive 'snow ball' sampling was used to recruit participants for four focus groups [n = 30] and one participant opting for a personal semi-structured interview. Participants worked with the researchers to develop the findings and formulate recommendations. The 25 women and 6 men, aged 20-80 years reported various chronic medical conditions. Focus groups/interview elicited accounts of critical issues concerning safe selection and use of over-the-counter analgesics. Serious health risks were evident due to limited knowledge about safe analgesic use and over-reliance on information from family, friends and advertising. Extremely poor access was reported by participants to culturally and linguistically appropriate information, education and advice from a range of doctors and other health professionals including Aboriginal health workers.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
- Medication use
- Non-prescribed analgesics
- Over-the-counter analgesics