When people think of Asthma Australia, they recall us for the work we do in our COACH Program and 1800 ASTHMA. What you may not know is that we are heavily involved, and at the forefront of some amazing advocacy and community research programs. One of which is Culture Well.

Culture Well is a place-based approach to addressing chronic disease. Through community health and wellbeing, the project looks not just at asthma as a disease but contributing social health and wellbeing factors. These are known as social determinants of health.

Using Dr Luke Craven’s Systems Mapping process we can better understand the unique social determinants of health, relevant to three cultural Brisbane communities: Arabic, Vietnamese, and Samoan.

“The research behind this project is showing that a person’s cultural diversity has more impact on determining their health and wellbeing than a disease itself,” said Dr Luke Craven.  “What this means is the manifestation of a disease is most likely a symptom of some other factor.”

In the world of public health, much of the work focuses on specific diseases a person has and treats these as separate conditions.  CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman explains that the lived experience of most people with chronic disease is more complex than this. “Individuals’ lives are complex, unique and varied.”   She says that multiple health conditions mostly interlink, and they are influenced by social issues, economic constraints, culture, family demands and access to suitable healthcare. “These factors influence the development of chronic diseases and how effectively they’re managed.”

Woman on respiratory machine

Asthma Australia has partnered with One Health Organisation and World Wellness Group, engaged several NGO’s, government and philanthropic organisations in round table discussions and focus groups to collaborate on a new approach to addressing chronic disease factors.

“We believe to determine long-term prevention strategies, we need to take a whole of community approach, and to do this, we need to work together with a common end goal in mind,” Ms Goldman explains.

The initial research highlights that 44% of the Samoan community, 42% of the Vietnamese community and 30% of the Arabic community had asthma and that mental health, self-esteem, obesity, and social integration were reasons why their conditions had become chronic.

Asthma Australia’s leading approach with Culture Well, is innovative and groundbreaking.  The organisations is helping shape the way culturally diverse communities can engage with health professionals and better manage chronic disease.

Learn more about the Culture Well program, view our latest report or get involved.