The barriers to effective communication between Aboriginal patients and hospital-based doctors in Darwin

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


Vicki Kerrigan is a communications researcher undertaking a PhD at Menzies School of Health Research. Her PhD research is embedded in the ‘Communicate’ study at Menzies. She is working with Aboriginal leaders, the Top End Health Service (TEHS) and the NT Aboriginal Interpreter Service to explore the barriers to effective communication between Aboriginal patients and hospital-based doctors in Darwin. This research is piloting new models to improve patient-provider communication at Royal Darwin Hospital in the Northern Territory. Two interventions are being piloted:
•Interpreter Ward Round pilot: Yolngu and Tiwi interpreters are embedded in a nephrology medical team at RDH for a pilot period. Results will explore: the positive impact of communicating with patients in their first language and hospital-based doctors ability to change practice to ensure the delivery of culturally safe care.
• The cultural education podcast: “Ask the Specialist: Larrakia, Tiwi and Yolngu stories to inspire better healthcare”. The seven episode series features community leaders known as “the Specialists”: Aunty Bilawara Lee, Pirrawayingi Puruntatameri, Rarrtjiwuy Melanie Herdman, and Stuart Yiwarr McGrath. Kriol and Burarra interpreter Bernadette Nethercott from the NT Aboriginal Interpreter Service also shares expertise. The Specialists answer RDH doctors’ questions and offer up ideas to improve the delivery of culturally safe care by sharing personal experiences as patients, professional experiences as health workers and cultural knowledge. In 2020, the podcast received the Health and Wellbeing Award at the NT Community Achievement Awards and silver for the Smartest Podcast at the Australian Podcast Awards. The series has been endorsed by Top End Health Service, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Aboriginal Medical Services of the NT, Miwatj Aboriginal Health Corporation, Public Health Association of Australia, Northern Territory Public Health Network and Charles Darwin University.
Effective start/end date31/03/1818/08/22


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