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Objective: The aim of this study was to develop an effective digital survey instrument incorporating images to investigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander preferences for health clinics and hospitals, design of healthcare settings and the differences between inner regional and remote locations. Methods: Design-related constructs developed from qualitative interviews informed the construction of healthcare setting images. These images were embedded in an online survey instrument to elicit data on design preferences and an area-based recruitment strategy ensured participation by Indigenous Australians from three Queensland locations. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the odds of preference for a healthcare setting design by location. Results: Statistical analysis of data from 602 participants showed a preference for health care at an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clinic. The odds of preference for an in-patient room with a two- versus single-bed design was greater for participants with less education, and lower for participants with a long-term health problem. Conclusions: The multidisciplinary approach to developing an online survey instrument with images and the willingness of Indigenous people of all ages to engage with the images demonstrated the effectiveness of this method in providing robust evidence for the design of culturally appropriate healthcare spaces for Indigenous users. What is known about the topic? Evidence-based research influences the design of healthcare buildings, yet the field currently provides negligible evidence on cross-cultural perceptions or experiences of conventional modern hospitals and clinics. Although recent healthcare buildings show signs of acknowledging Indigenous users, general principles in the Australian Health Facility Guidelines give limited specific information about how cultural requirements may translate into architectural design. What does this paper add? The multidisciplinary approach to research design has enabled the development of healthcare design-related constructs from consultation with Indigenous people, the presentation of these constructs as images and the inclusion of these images for comparison and selection in a digital survey instrument. Combined with a culturally appropriate recruitment strategy, this survey provides evidence from a large sample of the Indigenous population. Selected results from analyses of survey responses show the capacity of the methodological approach to address broader questions about Indigenous preferences for healthcare settings by location, age and sex. What are the implications for practitioners? A focus on individual preferences related to healthcare clinics and the combined significance of design and setting can give practitioners a better understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s preferences and suggest ways to reduce the incidence of poor engagement with healthcare services.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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