Abstract: Objective: To explore links between the social determinants of health, the ‘control factor’, and an Aboriginal empowerment program. Methods: The evidence that rank or social status is one of the most important determinants of health is briefly presented. This is followed by a critique of the Australian policy and intervention framework for tackling and reducing social inequalities. The concept of ‘control’ as an important element in addressing social determinants of health is examined next and the Family Wellbeing empowerment program is analysed to illustrate how the concept of control might be operationalised at program or intervention level. Implications for health practitioners are identified. Results: By providing a safe group environment for participants to explore sets of critical questions about themselves, their families and communities, through the process of participatory action research, Family Wellbeing has demonstrated its potential to ‘enable’ Indigenous people to take greater control and responsibility for their situation. While program participants first address personal and immediate family issues, evidence is emerging of a ripple effect of increasing harmony and capacity to address issues within the wider community Conclusions: The social determinants of health are complex and multi-layered and so addressing them needs to involve multilevel thinking and action. The control factor is only one element, albeit an important one, and Family Wellbeing is providing evidence that ‘control’ can be addressed in Indigenous settings. For empowerment programs to achieve their full potential, however, there is a need to ensure that such programs reach a critical mass of the target group. It is also imperative that policy-makers and practitioners take a longer-term approach, including properly resourced longitudinal studies to document and enhance the evidence base for such interventions. As health practitioners it is vital we consider our work within this broader context, creatively seek to enhance linkages between services and programs, and support processes for change or intervention at other levels.
Tsey, Komla, Whiteside, Mary, Deemal, Audrey, Gibson, Teresa, 2003, Social determinants of health, the ‘control factor’ and the Family Wellbeing Empowerment Program, Volume:11, Journal Article, viewed 17 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3883.