The social and cultural context of risk and prevention: food and physical activity in an urban Aboriginal community

Health Educ Behav. 2000 Dec;27(6):725-43. doi: 10.1177/109019810002700608.


One of the key public health challenges facing indigenous and other minority communities is how to develop and implement effective, acceptable, and sustainable strategies for the prevention of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). In this article, the authors describe how an ethnographic approach was used to contextualize the behavioral risk factors for NIDDM and applied to the development of a more meaningful and appropriate epidemiological risk factor survey instrument for an urban Aboriginal population in Australia. The overall research design comprised a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. The ethnographic study showed that the complex web of meanings that tie people to their family and community can and should be taken into account in any social epidemiology of health and illness if the findings are to have any effective and long-term potential to contribute to successful public health interventions targeting these behavioral risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Epidemiologic Research Design
  • Ethnology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / psychology*
  • Needs Assessment
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health* / statistics & numerical data
  • Victoria / epidemiology