Background: Studies that compare Indigenous Australian and non-Indigenous patients who experience a cardiac event or chest pain are inconclusive about the reasons for the differences in-hospital and survival rates. The advances in diagnostic accuracy, medication and specialised workforce has contributed to a lower case fatality and lengthen survival rates however this is not evident in the Indigenous Australian population. A possible driver contributing to this disparity may be the impact of patient-clinician interface during key interactions during the health care process.
Methods/Design: This study will apply an Indigenous framework to describe the interaction between Indigenous patients and clinicians during the continuum of cardiac health care, i.e. from acute admission, secondary and rehabilitative care. Adopting an Indigenous framework is more aligned with Indigenous realities, knowledge, intellects, histories and experiences. A triple layered designed focus group will be employed to discuss patient-clinician engagement. Focus groups will be arranged by geographic clusters i.e. metropolitan and a regional centre. Patient informants will be identified by Indigenous status (i.e. Indigenous and non-Indigenous) and the focus groups will be convened separately. The health care provider focus groups will be convened on an organisational basis i.e. state health providers and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Yarning will be used as a research method to facilitate discussion. Yarning is in congruence with the oral traditions that are still a reality in day-to-day Indigenous lives.
Discussion: This study is nestled in a larger research program that explores the drivers to the disparity of care and health outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians who experience an acute cardiac admission. A focus on health status, risk factors and clinical interventions may camouflage critical issues within a patient-clinician exchange. This approach may provide a way forward to reduce the appalling health disadvantage experienced within the Indigenous Australian communities.