Professor Jenny Strong and fellow APS members have recently published this original research in The Australian Journal of Rural Health:

Jenny Strong, Mandy Nielsen, Michael Williams, Jackie Huggins and Roland Sussex

Issue published online: 22 MAY 2015
Article first published online: 6 MAY 2015
Australian Journal of Rural Health 2015 DOI: 10.1111/ajr.12185



This study explores communications experienced by Aboriginal people in health care encounters about pain. It examines barriers that can impact upon effective pain management for Aboriginal patients. (This article refers to Aboriginal people, as these were the study participants. It is not intended to exclude Torres Strait Islander people.)


A qualitative study using focus groups.


Two Aboriginal communities in South East Queensland.


The participants were 20 men and 20 women who identified a health condition with associated pain for which they had sought health care, including pain relief. Their conditions included arthritis, orthopaedic injuries, back pain and coronary artery disease.


Physical pains associated with participants’ health conditions were accorded a second place to deep emotional pain attributed to dispossession, dislocation and loss. At health facilities, prominent perceptions were that health professionals held a negative attitude towards them, and lacked respect and caring. Participants experienced that the language used by health professionals in consultations was complex.


Aboriginal people often do not report pain, on the basis of previous negative encounters with the health system. Other perceived barriers to effective pain management included discriminatory attitudes of health professionals and communication problems.

About Australian Pain Society

The Australian Pain Society is a multidisciplinary body aiming to relieve pain and related suffering through leadership in clinical practice, education, research and public advocacy.


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