Adaption and implementation of Aboriginal child lung health tools for northern Western Australia

Reducing chronic lung disease in Aboriginal populations and particularly among children, is a health priority and part of the closing the gap agenda. The proposed project will adapt and implement Aboriginal child lung health tools for people living in northern Western Australia and help to inform families across wider regions of WA.

Early detection of chronic cough leads to earlier detection of disease and gives health professionals the opportunity to treat before permanent lung damage has occurred. A recent Hot North pilot project found 11% of children in 4 Aboriginal communities had chronic wet cough and parents were not aware of the need to seek medical help. However, families were receptive to culturally relevant lung health information and 74% of the families sought help for their child’s chronic wet cough.

Background: Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung disease that can cause early death in the Australian Aboriginal population.  This outcome is preventable.  The disease can commence in early life and usually the only early sign is a chronic wet cough.   The opportunity to intervene and cure the condition is often missed due to ‘normalization’ of chronic wet cough in Aboriginal children, reduced family awareness of the need to seek medical help and lack of knowledge by clinicians to treat chronic wet cough.

Our recent engagement with five Aboriginal communities in the western Kimberley has shown that simple strategies to inform and empower communities and clinicians can transform outcomes for Aboriginal children’s lung health. Through partnerships with Aboriginal Controlled Health Organizations (ACHO’s), families and health practitioners from these communities, families are now seeking early help for chronic wet cough in their children and clinicians are providing effective management for children presenting with chronic wet cough.

However, the series of tools, which have built on materials produced by Menzies School of Health Research, are designed for salt-water communities. The principles of knowledge translation highlight how solutions in one geographical location and cultural region may not be applicable to another region.  Hence, we aim to use knowledge translation methods to adapt and implement lung health information resources for Aboriginal families in desert regions of northern Western Australia (WA).

Predicted benefits and relevance to children:

The proposal will create a series of tools for Aboriginal communities across northern WA by adapting existing salt-water tools for desert communities, thereby creating culturally specific resources for widespread community use. Families will be empowered through improved awareness to better advocate for the health of their children. The complete set of resources developed will likely be translatable across northern Australia.

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