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Systematic scoping review of occupational health injuries and illnesses among Indigenous workers
  1. Brett Shannon1,2,
  2. Warren Jennings3,4,
  3. Lee Friedman2
  1. 1 LIME Medicolegal & Phoenix Occupational Medicine, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2 Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3 Primary Care Clinical Unit, The University of Queensland, Royal Brisbane, and Women’s Hospital Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  4. 4 Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Brett Shannon, Phoenix Occupational Medicine, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia; brettshannon1{at}


Indigenous populations in the USA, Australia, New Zealand (NZ) and Canada total more than 13 million, but continue to be marginalised in their respective regions. The goal of this comprehensive review of all studies evaluating adverse occupational health outcomes among Indigenous populations in these countries was to identify gaps in the literature and future research directions. A systematic scoping review of research published between 1970 and 2020 was undertaken using the methodological framework initially proposed by Arksey and O’Malley. Country, Indigenous participants, study type, exposure, adverse health outcome, occupation and industry were identified for each paper. Of the 1272 research papers identified, only 51 articles met the inclusion criteria of this scoping review. Almost half of the studies (n=24, 47.1%) were published after 2010. Only 13 (25.5%) studies specifically focused on Indigenous persons at the time of the study design, and less than half of the studies (47.1%) included more than 100 Indigenous participants. Most studies used the following general terms without mention of specific indigenous groups: Indigenous (Australia), Māori (NZ), Aboriginal (Canada) and American Indian or Alaskan Native (USA). Only one study acknowledged asking respondents their preferred terminology. Over the past 50 years, there has been a paucity of research directly or indirectly evaluating occupational health outcomes of Indigenous populations in these four countries. There is a need for better sampling strategies and inclusion of demographic questions that capture Indigenous status in surveys, workers’ compensation data and other commonly used data sources to develop adequate baseline data for targeted future interventions.

  • Ethnic Groups
  • Epidemiology
  • Occupational Health
  • Wounds and Injuries
  • Public health

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  • Contributors BS was involved in the conception and design, analysis, literature review, interpretation of data, drafting and revisions of the manuscript, and approval of the final version. WJ was involved in the conception and design, literature review, drafting and revisions of the manuscript, and approval of the final version. LF was involved as third reviewer of a subsection of the literature, interpretation of data, drafting and revisions of the manuscript and approval of the final version.

  • Funding The primary author is an Australian Aboriginal Occupational and Environmental Physician Registrar who is receiving PhD funding from the John Monash Foundation, American-Australian Association and Roberta Sykes Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.