Background: The mental health needs of young people are often inadequately met by health services. Quality improvement approaches provide a framework for measuring, assessing and improving the quality of healthcare. However, a lack of performance standards and measurement tools are an impediment to their implementation. This paper reports on the initial stages of development of a clinical audit tool for assessing the quality of primary healthcare for Australian Indigenous youth aged 12–24 including mental health services provided within primary care.
Methods: Audit items were determined through review of relevant guidelines, expert reference group consensus opinion and specific inclusion criteria. Pilot testing was undertaken at four Indigenous primary healthcare services. A focus group discussion involving five staff from a health service participating in pilot testing explored user experiences of the tool.
Results: Audit items comprise key measures of processes and outcomes of care for Indigenous youth, as determined by the expert reference group. Gaps and conflicts in relevant guidelines and a lack of agreed performance indicators necessitated a tool development process that relied heavily on expert reference group advice and audit item inclusion criteria. Pilot testing and user feedback highlighted the importance of feasibility and context-specific considerations in tool development and design.
Conclusions: The youth health audit tool provides a first step in monitoring, assessing and improving the way Indigenous primary healthcare services engage with and respond to the needs of youth. Our approach offers a way forward for further development of quality measures in the absence of clearly articulated standards of care.