Researchers at The University of Western Australia have been awarded nearly $750,000 funding to trial new ways of tackling nicotine addiction among Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.
The research partnership between UWA and Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, led by UWA's Dr David Atkinson and Dr Julia Marley, was awarded $747,697 in National Health and Medical Research Council funding to run an intensive quit smoking intervention trial in Kimberley Aboriginal primary health-care settings.
Dr Atkinson, Medical Coordinator of the Rural Clinical School in Broome, said Aboriginal people were twice as likely to be smokers as non-Aboriginal people and current approaches to quitting smoking were having limited success with Aboriginal smokers.
"The aim of our project is to trial a real-world intervention using a culturally appropriate Aboriginal health worker-led program to see if we can significantly improve the success of smoking cessation strategies," Dr Atkinson said.
He said that the gap in smoking rates was a significant health issue that needed to be addressed if the national "Close the Gap" campaign to reduce the 17-year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people was to be successful.
Close the Gap is a coalition of Australia's leading health, human rights and Aboriginal organisations working with Federal, State and Territory Governments to narrow the life expectancy gap between the indigenous population and other Australians within a generation. National Close the Gap Day is on Tuesday, 22 April, 2008.
The quit smoking trial will be based at two major Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the Kimberley and run over three years by the joint Rural Clinical School of WA and Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council research initiative. The research team will start recruiting participants later this year.
Those who agree to take part will be randomly allocated to either a program using current Australian recommended primary care quit smoking strategies or a more intensive quit smoking intervention led by Aboriginal health workers.