Background: Among Australian First Nations people, asthma is associated with worse morbidity and mortality than non-First Nations people. Improving the delivery of health education that is innovative and culturally relevant to linguistically diverse populations is needed. Digital platforms, such as mobile applications (APP), have the potential to improve evidence-based health education, particularly in settings where access to specialist services is limited and turnover of staff is high, such as in remote Australia. In response to consumer needs, we developed a multi-lingual Asthma APP from our existing asthma flipchart, with a “voice-over” in seven local First Nations languages and English, using a mixture of static and interactive formats. In this study, we evaluated (a) the functionality and usability of the APP with First Nations health professionals with and without asthma and (b) whether the APP improves health knowledge and understanding of asthma among First Nations carers of children with asthma.
Methods: In total, 7 First Nations health professionals participated in semi-structured interviews prior to the evaluation with 80 First Nations carers of children with asthma from the Northern Territory and Queensland, Australia. Carers underwent pre- and post-education questionnaires (maximum score = 25), where the post-questionnaire was administered immediately post the APP education session.
Results: Health professionals found that APP was easy to navigate and culturally appropriate. Among the 80 carers, most were mothers (86%), aged between 26 and 50 years (75%) and 61% lived in remote settings (>100 km from a tertiary hospital). Most carers chose English audio (76%) with the remainder choosing one of the First Nations languages. Overall, asthma knowledge significantly improved post-education (median scores pre = 21 [interquartile range (IQR), 19–22; post = 24 (IQR 22–24), p = 0.05]. Conclusion: The First Nations-specific multi-lingual Asthma APP was easy to use and acceptable for the use by health professionals that also significantly improved short-term asthma knowledge among First Nations carers of children with asthma. The Asthma APP is an innovative and culturally acceptable method of delivering evidence-based, health education to culturally and linguistically diverse populations among Australian First Nations people.