Article Text

Download PDFPDF
079 The crucial role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and practitioners in shared decision-making
  1. David Follent1,2,
  2. Karl Briscoe1,
  3. Judith Parnham1,
  4. Suzie Smith1,
  5. Antionette Liddell1,
  6. Richelle Jackson1,
  7. Yancy Laifoo1,
  8. Raeylene Mckenna1,
  9. Skyan Fernado1,
  10. Dawn Daly1
  1. 1National Association for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP), Phillip, Australia
  2. 2Agency for Clinical Innovation, New South Wales Government, Sydney, Australia


Introduction The pivotal role played by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners (ATSIHW&P) in facilitating Shared Decision-Making (SDM) with patients, particularly within Indigenous communities in Australia. This emphasises the significance of culturally competent care and their unique perspectives; this study explores the multifaceted roles of these Health Workers in SDM.

Methods Our research methodology involved an extensive review of the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers in healthcare settings, coupled with consultations with healthcare professionals, community members, and ATSIHW&P themselves to gain comprehensive insights into their involvement in SDM.

Results The study highlights several critical roles that ATSIHW&P fulfil in SDM, including acting as cultural liaisons, promoting cultural competence, facilitating effective communication, advocating for patients‘ rights, providing health education, and actively engaging in SDM discussions. Collectively, these roles enhance the patient experience, promote health literacy, and empower patients to make informed healthcare decisions.

Discussion Our discussion underscores the cultural competence of ATSIHW&P and their ability to bridge the gap between patients and healthcare providers. They create culturally safe environments, ensure patients‘ voices are heard, and offer emotional support during challenging healthcare decisions. Their roles extend to care coordination, community engagement, and fostering trust and confidence among patients.

Conclusion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers play an instrumental role in promoting SDM in healthcare settings. Their roles encompass cultural competence, advocacy, communication, and patient empowerment. Recognising their value in SDM is essential for patient-centred care and improved health outcomes, particularly within Indigenous communities. Culturally safe healthcare environments, empowered patients, and enhanced health literacy are outcomes that underscore the importance of ATSIHW&P in SDM. This study emphasises the need to acknowledge, support, and further integrate their roles to ensure culturally efficient, effective, and appropriate healthcare decision-making for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.