A case-study approach to understanding complexities of Type 2 diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people aged 15-24 in northern Australia

Understanding the lived experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth with Type 2 diabetes in Northern Australia

Type 2 diabetes is increasing among young people globally, with emerging evidence that it is increasing among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. For example, in WA the incidence is 20 times higher than the non-Indigenous population. Precise rates in the NT and FNQ are unknown.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth with diabetes have very high blood sugar levels, putting them at increased risk of diabetes complications such as heart and kidney disease from a young age. In addition, rates of pregnancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in this age group are higher than for non-Indigenous women. Diabetes in pregnancy puts the mother and baby at risk of poorer health outcomes, making it critical that appropriate care and supports are developed.

This research aims to understand the lived experiences and healthcare pathways of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who have type 2 diabetes in the NT and FNQ. In-depth case studies will be conducted in one remote and one urban community in each region. This will include interviews with youth and their support person(s), treating health professionals, and information from the young person’s medical record. In addition to individual case studies, interviews or focus groups will be held with other youth with type 2 diabetes in each region, to identify common experiences. This study will recommend strategies to support youth with type 2 diabetes to look after their health and improve healthservices to better meet their needs.

The project is nested within the NT & FNQ Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership (which aims to improve health outcomes for people who have diabetes early in life) and through existing networks with government and Aboriginal community controlled health services across these regions, it will design ways to improve models of care for this population.

  • Dr Renae Kirkham

  • Associate Professor Louise Maple-Brown

  • Menzies School of Health Research

  • January - December 2018

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