Feature Article

Optimising diabetes care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Louise J Maple-Brown, Sridhar Chitturi



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have a significantly higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes than the overall Australian population. Issues such as social determinants of health, medication adherence, food security and medical comorbidities are important to consider when managing diabetes in these peoples.

Key Points

  • Simple medication regimens with once-daily dosing are preferred for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with diabetes.
  • Check at every visit whether the individual is taking all their diabetes medications (poor HbA1c may be due to not taking all prescribed medications).
  • Enquire about food supply and reliability of food intake.
  • Resolve concerns with safekeeping of insulin in homes with small children.
  • Show flexibility and arrive at mutually acceptable goals and means to achieve these goals.
  • Understand the social determinants of health impacting on the person’s home and life situation.
  • High staff turnover in remote primary health care is a challenge and strong interpersonal relationships between members of the primary health care team and between the team and the patient are crucial.