Understanding burn injuries in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: baseline results from the Coolamon Study

Dr Kate Hunter1, Professor Rebecca Q.  Ivers1,2, Dr Tamara Mackean1,3, Ms  Julieann Coombes1,4, Professor Kathleen Clapham5, Professor Roy Kimble6, Professor Andrew J.A. Holland7

1The George Institute For Global Health, Newtown, Australia, 2Southgate, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, 3The Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University , Adelaide, Australia, 4The University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, 5Australian Health Services Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, 6Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital; Centre of Children’s Burns & Trauma Research, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 7The University of Sydney School of Medicine, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, The Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney, Australia


Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) children are over-represented in burn injury hospitalisations, yet little is understood about the burn injury, care received and access to services. This study aims to describe the burden of burns, access to care, and outcomes in First Nations children with serious burns. This paper presents the baseline data.
Methods: In 2015-2017, First Nations children aged under 16 years (and their families) presenting with a burn to one of five tertiary paediatric burn services in Australia were recruited. Data were collected via participant interviews and medical records and includes sociodemographic data, burn injury and first aid treatment, mode and timing of transportation to hospital, health related quality of life and impact of the injury on family. The study is governed by an advisory group comprising representatives from the investigators, Aboriginal community members, and Aboriginal health organisation.
Results: Of 204 children recruited, 64% were male, 45% were aged less than two years, children were more likely to have received first aid at the site of the injury if it was a scald burn compared with a flame burn (95% vs 79%).
Discussion: Burns sustained by children in this cohort were largely scald and contact burns in boys. Although first aid was applied in most cases, timing to first aid differed by burn type.


Dr Kate Hunter is a Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health and a conjoint senior lecturer at the University of NSW. She leads a large body of work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. In her current research in burn care Dr Hunter draws on her earlier career as an RN working in burn units in both Australia and the US. Her research interests include assessing equitable access to health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Dr Hunter is supported by a NSW Health Early Mid-Career Fellowship.


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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