The impact of a health information campaign to improve timely health seeking of families of Aboriginal children with chronic wet cough in the Kimberley

Preventing permanent lung damage in children by ensuring timely health seeking for chronic wet cough

Background: Bronchiectasis and its precursor, chronic suppurative lung disease (CSLD) are prevalent in the Aboriginal population. These chronic diseases cause premature death in the 3rd-4th decade of life in Aboriginal Australians but can often be prevented if chronic wet cough is detected early and managed appropriately in children. Chronic wet cough is the dominant symptom in CSLD and protracted bacterial bronchitis (PBB), a pre-CSLD state.

Unfortunately, chronic wet cough is often considered as normal in Aboriginal children. An Australian study found that 80% adults with newly diagnosed bronchiectasis had chronic cough from childhood. Our own research in the Kimberly has also shown that the majority of Aboriginal parents are unaware that chronic wet cough in their children is abnormal. However, they are highly receptive to health information about lung health and chronic wet cough. We have conducted qualitative research, including interviews with 40 Aboriginal parents, to understand the barriers and enablers to timely medical health care seeking for chronic wet cough.

Aim and methods: The aim of this study is to conduct a health information campaign in Broome, a large town in Broome, WA. The campaign will utilise culturally appropriate and research informed methods to inform families of the need to seek medical help if children cough for more than four weeks. The effectiveness of the information campaign will be measured by collecting data on health care seeking behaviour of families with children with wet cough before and after implementation of the health promotion campaign.

Predicted benefits and relevance to WA children: The proposed research will create transformational change in the lung health of WA Aboriginal children by creating widespread community awareness of the importance of lung health and chronic wet cough. Families will be empowered through improved awareness to better advocate for the health of their children.

  • Pam D'Sylva

  • Professor Anne Chang

  • Telethon Kids Institute

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