The variability of three behavioural risk factors for heart disease—heavy alcohol and tobacco consumption and physical inactivity—was assessed in an Australian Aboriginal community, where heart disease death rates were high. Prevalence levels were assessed by comparison with those experienced by all adult Australians and by evaluating whether Aboriginal rates were influenced by underlying sociodemographic conditions. Relative risk ratios, odds ratios and logistic regression analysis were used.
A total of 159 males and 114 females participated. Compared to all Australians, Aborigines are significantly more likely to drink five or more drinks on a drinking day, to be current smokers, and not to participate in vigorous exercise. In the Aboriginal community, univariate analysis indicates that: the odds of being a heavy drinker are significantly higher for those in unsatisfactory health; odds of being a current smoker are significantly higher for those in unsatisfactory health or unemployed; odds of not participating in vigorous exercise are significantly higher for those in unsatisfactory health, unemployed or without secondary education. Multivariate analysis shows that risk of being a heavy drinker is independently associated with sex, age, and health status; risk of being a current smoker is associated with health and employment status. The risk of not participating in vigorous exercise is significantly related to all sociodemographic variables examined. Reasons for these associations are discussed.