Objective: To evaluate the pilot phase of a tobacco brief intervention program in three Indigenous health care settings in rural and remote north Queensland.
Methods: A combination of in-depth interviews with health staff and managers and focus groups with health staff and consumers.
Results: The tobacco brief intervention initiative resulted in changes in clinical practice among health care workers in all three sites. Although health workers had reported routinely raising the issue of smoking in a variety of settings prior to the intervention, the training provided them with an additional opportunity to become more aware of new approaches to smoking cessation. Indigenous health workers in particular reported that their own attempts to give up smoking following the training had given them confidence and empathy in offering smoking cessation advice. However, the study found no evidence that anybody had actually given up smoking at six months following the intervention. Integration of brief intervention into routine clinical practice was constrained by organisational, interpersonal and other factors in the broader socioenvironmental context.
Conclusions/implications: While modest health gains may be possible through brief intervention, the potential effectiveness in Indigenous settings will be limited in the absence of broader strategies aimed at tackling community-identified health priorities such as alcohol misuse, violence, employment and education. Tobacco and other forms of lifestyle brief intervention need to be part of multi-level health strategies. Training in tobacco brief intervention should address both the Indigenous context and the needs of Indigenous health care workers.