An education intervention for childhood asthma by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers: a randomised controlled trial

Patricia Valery, Ian Brent Masters, Brett Taylor, Yancy Laifoo, Peter O'Rourke, Anne Chang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: To assess the outcomes of an education intervention for childhood asthma conducted by Australian Indigenous health care workers (IHCWs).
    Design and setting: Randomised controlled trial in a primary health care setting on Thursday Island and Horn Island, and in Bamaga, Torres Strait region of northern Australia, April 2005 to March 2007. 
    Participants: 88 children, aged 1-17 years, with asthma diagnosed by a respiratory physician (intervention group, 35; control group, 53; 98% Indigenous children). 
    Interventions: Children were randomly allocated to: (i) three additional asthma education sessions with a trained IHCW, or (ii) no additional asthma education. Both groups were re-assessed at 12 months.
    Main outcome measures: Primary endpoint: number of unscheduled visits to hospital or a doctor caused by asthma exacerbation. Secondary outcomes: measures of quality of life (QoL) and functional severity index; asthma knowledge and understanding of asthma action plans (AAPs); and school days missed because of wheezing. 
    Results: The groups were comparable at baseline (except for asthma severity, which was adjusted for in the analysis). There were no significant differences in the primary outcome (number of unscheduled medical visits for asthma). School children in the intervention group missed fewer school days because of wheezing (100% < 7 days v 21% of those in the control group missed 7-14 days). Significantly more carers in the intervention group could answer questions about asthma medication, knew where their AAP was kept (84% v 56%), and were able to describe the plan (67% v 40%). In both the intervention and control groups (before-and-after comparison), there was a significantly reduced frequency of asthma exacerbations, as well as an improved QoL score and functional severity index, with no significant differences between the groups. 
    Conclusions: A community-based asthma education program conducted by trained IHCWs improves some important asthma outcomes in Indigenous children with asthma. 
    Trial registration: Australian Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN012605000718640.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)574-579
    Number of pages6
    JournalMedical Journal of Australia
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2010


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