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Exploring anti-tobacco messages from an experiential arts activity with Aboriginal youth in an Australian high-school setting

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High Aboriginal smoking prevalence exposes youth to passive smoking and encourages initiation. Using an educational arts-in-health project, we engaged youth in exploring the meaning of smoking for the Aboriginal community. An interactive classroom session educated N=20 Aboriginal high-school students about smoking and mass media literacy, followed by a poster-making session. The students could choose a threat-appeal, a positive benefit appeal or an advocacy message, targeted at youth, families or Elders. The visual and textual content of the posters underwent framework analysis to explore the range of messages and images. Students created innovative posters depicting issues facing Aboriginal people from smoking, including the potential loss of parents to ill-health. The majority of messages were fear-based (59 per cent), and targeted family (63 per cent). Over half of the students included Aboriginal arts styles or symbols. Aboriginal students exhibited insight into the effects of tobacco on their community.
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Keywords: Aboriginal health; health education; health promotion; mass media; tobacco smoking; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The University of Newcastle 2: New South Wales Department of Education and Training

Publication date: 01 June 2017

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  • The Journal of Applied Arts and Health serves a wide community of artists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers evidencing the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary use of arts in health and arts for health. It provides a forum for the publication and debate within an interdisciplinary field of arts in healthcare and health promotion. The journal defines 'health' broadly which includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and community health.
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