Tools and methodologies for investigating the mental health needs of Indigenous patients: it's about communication

Australas Psychiatry. 2006 Mar;14(1):33-7. doi: 10.1080/j.1440-1665.2006.02235.x.


Objective: To undertake a needs analysis to determine the quality and effectiveness of current mental health services to Indigenous patients within a health district of Southern Queensland. The present study focused on identifying gaps in the service provision for Indigenous patients. Tools and methodologies were developed to achieve this.

Method: Before commencement of the needs analysis, a review of related national projects was completed. The needs analysis entailed the development and distribution of two separate questionnaires. A major priority of the questionnaire for Indigenous patients was ensuring that effective communication and cultural respect was achieved. A steering committee of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts collaborated on this. The second questionnaire was for employees of the mental health service. Both questionnaires were designed to provide a balanced perspective of current mental health service needs for Indigenous people within the mental health service.

Results: The predominant issue that emerged and underpinned all the results was communication.

Conclusions: The present study has developed and used procedures for undertaking research involving Indigenous people. It has shown the importance of involving Indigenous people to help ensure successful communication, compliance and cooperation by Indigenous mental health patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Services Research
  • Health Services, Indigenous / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Queensland
  • Surveys and Questionnaires