New project—Effectiveness of an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Cultural Respect Program in general practice

Posted 25 March 2014

Aboriginal people comprise 2.5% of Australia's population, with 60% urban dwellers with poor access to health care. Poor access to care is reflected through disparities in health status and health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Despite various strategies to close this gap inequities still persist. The project aims at addressing this issue at general practice level.

The “Ways of Thinking and Ways of Doing (WoTWoD)” is the basis of this project which was developed by GP Unit during 2008-13 and field-tested through two pilot projects in Melbourne and Sydney. The WoTWoD is a whole-of-practice clinical redesign program and toolkit. The hypothesis is that WoTWoD, if successfully implemented at general practices, will enable them to provide culturally and clinically appropriate health care to their Aboriginal patients.

This new project is a multi-centre randomized control funded by NHMRC. It will be conducted across two major cities— Sydney and Melbourne. In Sydney the researchers are from UNSW Centre from Primary Health Care & Equity and Melbourne researchers are from the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne.

The research team will work closely with Medicare Locals (MLs), Aboriginal Community Controlled Organizations (ACCOs) and Aboriginal communities in our study areas. Five MLs in NSW and four in Melbourne have already agreed to be our partners in this project. A “Local Partnership” will be formed at each Medicare Local area which will include representatives from local ACCOs, Medicare Locals and Elders from local Aboriginal communities. The target population will be general practices and we aim recruit 80 practices across both states.

Workshops will be organized to train intervention practice staff on the WoTWoD . Intervention practices will receive support from a trained Aboriginal cultural mentors .

Project data collection will include a pre and post audit conducted by practice staff with the assistance from the research team. Practice staff will also be requested to fill a “Cultural Quotient (CQ)” form. Patients and general practice staff will also be interviewed at the end of the study to express views about WoTWoD. Primary outcomes measures includes cultural respect among practice staff (CQ score) and use of Aboriginal Health Assessment MBS item.