Understanding burn injuries in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: treatment, access to services and outcomes: study progress

Prof. Rebecca Ivers1, Dr Tamara Mackean1, Professor Andrew  Holland2, Dr Kate  Hunter1, Professor Kathleen Clapham3, Professor Roy Kimble4, for the Coolamon Study Investigators

1The George Institute For Global Health, UNSW, Newtown, Australia, 2Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Westmead, Australia, 3University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, 4Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

Background: There is very little research examining the impact of burns in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, or care received, despite significant burden. The objective of this study was to describe the burden of burns, access to care, and outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Methods: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under 16 years of age (and their families) presenting with a burn to a tertiary paediatric burn unit from NSW, SA, NT and Queensland were recruited and followed for 2 years. Quantitative data were collected via participant interviews, clinical data from medical records and linkage to MBS/PBS records to capture outcomes and impact, including cost. Qualitative research was conducted to identify barriers to care, from the perspective of the patient, their families, and their health care providers. Systems mapping of services, exploration of existing models of care and patient journey mapping will be completed in 2017. The study is governed by an Aboriginal advisory group and uses Indigenous methodologies as a frame of reference for the methodological approach.

Results: To date, 144 participants have been recruited. In-depth interviews with 80 clinical burn team members from 5 states, and 10 study participants/carers have been conducted. Results highlight significant systemic barriers to accessing care, and significant personal and economic impact on families.

Conclusions: A round table will be held in 2018 to synthesize results and inform development of a new model of care that explicitly considers the care of Indigenous children and achieves transformational change.

Professor Rebecca Ivers is the Director of the Injury Division at The George Institute. An injury epidemiologist, she holds a Masters degree in Public Health and PhD in injury epidemiology from the University of Sydney. She has an appointment as Professor at the University of New South Wales, and has published widely in the peer reviewed literature in the fields of unintentional injury. She leads research focusing on prevention and of injury in low and middle income countries worldwide. Working in partnership with Aboriginal researchers she also leads a program of research focusing on prevention and care of injury in First Nations people.

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