Emotional reactions to the concepts of racism and white privilege in non-aboriginal health professionals working in remote communities

Masters Thesis


Prince, Caitlin. 2022. Emotional reactions to the concepts of racism and white privilege in non-aboriginal health professionals working in remote communities. Masters Thesis Masters of Professional Studies . University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/wq87z
Title

Emotional reactions to the concepts of racism and white privilege in non-aboriginal health professionals working in remote communities

TypeMasters Thesis
AuthorsPrince, Caitlin
Supervisor
1. FirstProf Marcus Harmes
3. ThirdSteven Larkin
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameMasters of Professional Studies
Number of Pages137
Year2022
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/wq87z
Abstract

National standards require health professionals to address racism in health service delivery at individual and systemic levels. However, identifying racism elicits strong emotional reactions including denial, anger, guilt and shame, fear, loss of belonging and disgust. These emotional reactions shut down critical reflection on racism and thwart antiracist initiatives. These emotional reactions need to be better understood in order to successfully develop antiracist professional practice. This research examines how health professionals working in remote Aboriginal communities engage with antiracism in their professional practice, whether it elicits strong emotional reactions, and if so whether these emotional reactions impact on their health service delivery. Eleven non-Indigenous allied health professionals were interviewed in a semi-structured format. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed. Themes were compared against existing literature. Every professional interviewed identified overwhelming and difficult emotions in their work that they linked to racism, white privilege and colonisation. Professionals reported grappling with denial, anger, guilt, shame, fear, anxiety and perfectionism, loss of belonging, disgust, and care. They reported the emotions cause exhaustion, poor performance, tensions with colleagues and managers, burnout, leaving remote jobs and changing professions. Previously these emotional reactions and their impact on antiracism have only been described in the context of universities and by antiracist activists. This research identifies for the first time that these reactions also occur in health services working with remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. This indicates the need for wider research to understand how these emotional reactions impact health service delivery to Aboriginal communities. It also demonstrates the need to trial and evaluate ways to support staff constructively navigate these reactions and develop antiracist, decolonised professional practice.

KeywordsAntiracism; decolonisation; Aboriginal health; rural and remote health; allied health
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020420399. Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
450499. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing not elsewhere classified
420199. Allied health and rehabilitation science not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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