Delivery of child health services in indigenous communities: Implications for the federal government's emergency intervention in the Northern Territory

Ross Stewart Bailie, Damin Si, Michelle Dowden, Christine Connors, L O'DONOGHUE, Helen Liddle, Catherine Kennedy, R COX, Hugh Burke, Sandra Thompson, A Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: To describe delivery of child health services in Australian Aboriginal communities, and to identify gaps in services required to improve the health of Aboriginal children. Design: Cross-sectional baseline audit for a quality improvement intervention. Setting and participants: 297 children aged at least 3 months and under 5 years in 11 Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, Far West New South Wales and Western Australia in 2006. Main outcome measures: Adherence to guideline-scheduled services including clinical examinations, brief interventions or advice on health-related behaviour and risks, and enquiry regarding social conditions; and recorded follow-up of identified problems. Results: Documentation of delivery of specific clinical examinations (26%-80%) was relatively good, but was poorer for brief interventions or advice on health-related behaviour and risks (5%-36%) and enquiry regarding social conditions (3%-11%). Compared with children in Far West NSW and WA, those attending NT centres were significantly more likely to have a record of growth faltering, underweight, chronic ear disease, anaemia, or chronic respiratory disease (P < 0.005). Only 11%-13% of children with identified social problems had an assessment report on file. An action plan was documented for 22% of children with growth faltering and 13% with chronic ear disease; 43% of children with chronic respiratory disease and 31% with developmental delay had an assessment report on file. Conclusion: Existing systems are not providing for adequate follow-up of identified medical and social problems for children living in remote Aboriginal communities; development of systems for immediate and longer-term sustainable responses to these problems should be a priority. Without effective systems for follow-up, screening children for disease and adverse social circumstances will result in little or no benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-618
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Volume188
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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    Bailie, R. S., Si, D., Dowden, M., Connors, C., O'DONOGHUE, L., Liddle, H., Kennedy, C., COX, R., Burke, H., Thompson, S., & Brown, A. (2008). Delivery of child health services in indigenous communities: Implications for the federal government's emergency intervention in the Northern Territory. Medical Journal of Australia, 188(10), 615-618.