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Follow-up of Indigenous-specific health assessments – a socioecological analysis

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Preventive health assessments have become a feature of health policies internationally.1 In Australia, Medicare-funded Indigenous-specific health assessments (herein referred to as “health assessment”) and follow-up items have been progressively introduced since 1999 as a means to improve the limited preventive health opportunities and reduce high rates of undetected risk factors among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (respectfully referred to hereafter as Indigenous people) (Box 1).3,4

A recent systematic review shows that while health assessments may increase new diagnoses, there is a lack of evidence of their effect on morbidity and mortality.1 While the reasons for lack of impact of health assessments are not well understood, it is clear that health assessments have limited potential to impact on health outcomes in the absence of appropriate follow-up care.57 The $805 million Indigenous Chronic Disease Package (ICDP) introduced by the Australian Government in 2010 included program funding and a new workforce to help increase the delivery of health assessments and appropriate follow-up.8