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Exploring relationships between racism, housing and child illness in remote indigenous communities

Abstract

Background Although racism is increasingly acknowledged as a determinant of health, few studies have examined the relationship between racism, housing and child health outcomes.

Methods Cross-sectional data from the Housing Improvement and Child Health study collected in ten remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Australia were analysed using hierarchical logistic regression. Carer and householder self-reported racism was measured using a single item and child illness was measured using a carer report of common childhood illnesses. A range of confounders, moderators and mediators were considered, including socio-demographic and household composition, psychosocial measures for carers and householders, community environment, and health-related behaviour and hygienic state of environment.

Results Carer self-reported racism was significantly associated with child illness in this sample after adjusting for confounders (OR 1.65; 95% CI 1.09 to 2.48). Carer negative affect balance was identified as a significant mediator of this relationship. Householder self-reported racism was marginally significantly associated with child illness in this sample after adjusting for confounders (OR 1.43; 95% CI 0.94 to 2.18, p=0.09). Householder self-reported drug use was identified as a significant mediator of this relationship.

Conclusions Consistent with evidence from adult populations and children from other ethnic minorities, this study found that vicarious racism is associated with poor health outcomes among an indigenous child population.

  • Indigenous
  • racism
  • remote
  • children
  • health
  • Australia
  • aboriginal populatns
  • child health
  • housing
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