The inequity of randomising participants to control groups in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is often considered inappropriate, especially for research trials that include vulnerable populations such as Indigenous peoples. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Fitness Program conducted a trial that randomly assigned participants to ‘active’ and ‘waitlisted’ groups. This paper reports on participant views of the randomisation protocol.
A pragmatic RCT was conducted in an urban setting to assess the effectiveness of the 12-week Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Fitness Program on metabolic health outcomes and waist circumference. Qualitative interviews were conducted at follow-up, one of the objectives was to explore participant perspectives on the research protocol, including participant randomisation to ‘Active’ and ‘Waitlisted’ groups.
A total of 49 interviews were conducted (26 Active and 23 Waitlisted participants). Two key factors influenced participant views on the protocol: 1) group assignment; and 2) how well they understood the research design, including the justification for randomisation. ‘Active’ participants were concerned about the inequity of the randomisation process but overall supported the study protocol. Although most Waitlisted participants were disappointed about having to wait 12-months for the program, some participants derived motivation from being waitlisted, whilst others lost motivation. Well-informed participants were more likely to express both support for the randomisation process and an understanding of the research benefits than participants not attending an information session prior to registration.
Participants were more accepting of the research protocol if it was clearly explained to them, if they understood the randomisation process and felt the randomisation was justified in terms of the potential for the results to benefit other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Our study suggests that the time and resources required to adequately explain the research protocol in research trials should not be undervalued.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12610000224022).
Pragmatic RCTs; Qualitative research; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Physical activity; Randomisation
In 2002/03 the Queensland Government responded to high rates of alcohol-related harm in discrete Indigenous communities by implementing alcohol management plans (AMPs), designed to include supply and harm reduction and treatment measures. Tighter alcohol supply and carriage restrictions followed in 2008 following indications of reductions in violence and injury. Despite the plans being in place for over a decade, no comprehensive independent review has assessed to what level the designed aims were achieved and what effect the plans have had on Indigenous community residents and service providers. This study will describe the long-term impacts on important health, economic and social outcomes of Queensland’s AMPs.
The project has two main studies, 1) outcome evaluation using de-identified epidemiological data on injury, violence and other health and social indicators for across Queensland, including de-identified databases compiled from relevant routinely-available administrative data sets, and 2) a process evaluation to map the nature, timing and content of intervention components targeting alcohol. Process evaluation will also be used to assess the fidelity with which the designed intervention components have been implemented, their uptake and community responses to them and their perceived impacts on alcohol supply and consumption, injury, violence and community health. Interviews and focus groups with Indigenous residents and service providers will be used. The study will be conducted in all 24 of Queensland’s Indigenous communities affected by alcohol management plans.
This evaluation will report on the impacts of the original aims for AMPs, what impact they have had on Indigenous residents and service providers. A central outcome will be the establishment of relevant databases describing the parameters of the changes seen. This will permit comprehensive and rigorous surveillance systems to be put in place and provided to communities empowering them with the best credible evidence to judge future policy and program requirements for themselves. The project will inform impending alcohol policy and program adjustments in Queensland and other Australian jurisdictions.
The project has been approved by the James Cook University Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number H4967 & H5241).
Alcohol; Indigenous; Alcohol Management Plans; Public Health
Diabetes mellitus is an increasingly prevalent metabolic disorder that is associated with substantial disease burden. Australia has an opportunity to improve ways of caring for the growing number of people with diabetes, but this may require changes to the way care is funded, organised and delivered. To inform how best to care for people with diabetes, and to identify the extent of change that is required to achieve this, the Diabetes Care Project (DCP) will evaluate the impact of two different, evidence-based models of care (compared to usual care) on clinical quality, patient and provider experience, and cost.
The DCP uses a pragmatic, cluster randomised controlled trial design. Accredited general practices that are situated within any of the seven Australian Medicare Locals/Divisions of General Practice that have agreed to take part in the study were invited to participate. Consenting practices will be randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups for approximately 18 to 22 months: (a) control group (usual care); (b) Intervention 1 (which tests improvements that could be made within the current funding model, facilitated through the use of an online chronic disease management network); or (c) Intervention 2 (which includes the same components as Intervention 1, as well as altered funding to support voluntary patient registration with their practice, incentive payments and a care facilitator). Adult patients who attend the enrolled practices and have established (≥12 month’s duration) type 1 diabetes mellitus or newly diagnosed or established type 2 diabetes mellitus are invited to participate. Multiple outcomes will be studied, including changes in glycosylated haemoglobin (primary outcome), changes in other biochemical and clinical metrics, incidence of diabetes-related complications, quality of life, clinical depression, success of tailored care, patient and practitioner satisfaction, and budget sustainability.
This project responds to a need for robust evidence of the clinical and economic effectiveness of coordinated care for the management of diabetes in the Australian primary care setting. The outcomes of the study will have implications not only for diabetes management, but also for the management of other chronic diseases, both in Australia and overseas.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12612000363886); World Health Organisation (U1111-1128-0481).
Cluster randomised controlled trial; Coordinated care; Diabetes mellitus; Economic evaluation; General practice; Primary care
Despite two decades of interventions, rates of sexually transmissible infections (STI) in remote Australian Aboriginal communities remain unacceptably high. Routine notifications data from 2011 indicate rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea among Aboriginal people in remote settings were 8 and 61 times higher respectively than in the non-Indigenous population.
STRIVE is a stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial designed to compare a sexual health quality improvement program (SHQIP) to usual STI clinical care delivered in remote primary health care services. The SHQIP is a multifaceted intervention comprising annual assessments of sexual health service delivery, implementation of a sexual health action plan, six-monthly clinical service activity data reports, regular feedback meetings with a regional coordinator, training and financial incentive payments. The trial clusters comprise either a single community or several communities grouped together based on geographic proximity and cultural ties. The primary outcomes are: prevalence of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomonas in Aboriginal residents aged 16–34 years, and performance in clinical management of STIs based on best practice indicators. STRIVE will be conducted over five years comprising one and a half years of trial initiation and community consultation, three years of trial conditions, and a half year of data analysis. The trial was initiated in 68 remote Aboriginal health services in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.
STRIVE is the first cluster randomised trial in STI care in remote Aboriginal health services. The trial will provide evidence to inform future culturally appropriate STI clinical care and control strategies in communities with high STI rates.
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000358044
Aboriginal; Indigenous; Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia; Gonorrhoea; Trichomonas; Continuous quality improvement; Protocol; Prevalence; Remote
Primary health care is recognised as an integral part of a country’s health care system. Measuring hospitalisations, that could potentially be avoided with high quality and accessible primary care, is one indicator of how well primary care services are performing. This review was interested in the association between chronic disease related hospitalisations and primary health care resourcing.
Studies were included if peer reviewed, written in English, published between 2002 and 2012, modelled hospitalisation as a function of PHC resourcing and identified hospitalisations for type 2 diabetes as a study outcome measure. Access and use of PHC services were used as a proxy for PHC resourcing. Studies in populations with a predominant user pay system were excluded to eliminate patient financial barriers to PHC access and utilisation. Articles were systematically excluded based on the inclusion criteria, to arrive at the final set of studies for review.
The search strategy identified 1778 potential articles using EconLit, Medline and Google Scholar databases. Ten articles met the inclusion criteria and were subject to review. PHC resources were quantified by workforce (either medical or nursing) numbers, number of primary care episodes, service availability (e.g. operating hours), primary care practice size (e.g. single or group practitioner practice—a larger practice has more care disciplines onsite), or financial incentive to improve quality of diabetes care. The association between medical workforce numbers and ACSC hospitalisations was mixed. Four of six studies found that less patients per doctor was significantly associated with a decrease in ambulatory care sensitive hospitalisations, one study found the opposite and one study did not find a significant association between the two. When results were categorised by PHC access (e.g. GPs/capita, range of services) and use (e.g. n out-patient visits), better access to quality PHC resulted in fewer ACSC hospitalisations. This finding remained when only studies that adjusted for health status were categorised. Financial incentives to improve the quality of diabetes care were associated with less ACSC hospitalisations, reported in one study.
Seven of 12 measures of the relationship between PHC resourcing and ACSC hospitalisations had a significant inverse association. As a collective body of evidence the studies provide inconclusive support that more PHC resourcing is associated with reduced hospitalisation for ACSC. Characteristics of improved or increased PHC access showed inverse significant associations with fewer ACSC hospitalisations after adjustment for health status. The varied measures of hospitalisation, PHC resourcing, and health status may contribute to inconsistent findings among studies and make it difficult to interpret findings.
Type 2 diabetes; Chronic disease; Primary health care resourcing; Ambulatory care sensitive conditions; Hospitalisation
Tobacco smoking is a major health issue for Indigenous Australians, however there are few interventions with demonstrated efficacy in this population. The Transtheoretical Model may provide a useful framework for describing smoking behaviour and assessing readiness to quit, with the aim of developing better interventions. Interviews were conducted with 593 Indigenous Australians in eight rural and remote communities in north Queensland, to examine stages of change and smoking behaviour. Among current smokers, 39.6% and 43.4% were in Precontemplation and Contemplation stages respectively. A further 13.9% were making preparations to quit (Preparation) whilst only 3.2% said they were actively trying to quit (Action). When analysed by stage of change, the pattern of smoking-related behaviours conformed to the results of past research using the model. Importantly however, distribution of individuals across the stages opposes those observed in investigations of smoking behaviour in non-Indigenous Australian populations. The Transtheoretical Model can be used to meaningfully classify Indigenous smokers in remote north Queensland according to stages along the behaviour change continuum. Importantly, in this large sample across eight communities, most Indigenous smokers were not making preparations to change their smoking behaviour. This suggests that interventions should focus on promoting movement toward the Preparation and Action stages of change.
Indigenous Australians; smoking; stages of change
Compared to other Australian women, Indigenous women are frequently at greater risk for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. We examined pre-pregnancy factors that may predict hypertension in pregnancy in a cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in north Queensland.
Data on a cohort of 1009 Indigenous women of childbearing age (15–44 years) who participated in a 1998–2000 health screening program in north Queensland were combined with 1998–2008 Queensland hospitalisations data using probabilistic data linkage. Data on the women in the cohort who were hospitalised for birth (n = 220) were further combined with Queensland perinatal data which identified those diagnosed with hypertension in pregnancy.
Of 220 women who gave birth, 22 had hypertension in the pregnancy after their health check. The mean age of women with and without hypertension was similar (23.7 years and 23.9 years respectively) however Aboriginal women were more affected compared to Torres Strait Islanders. Pre-pregnancy adiposity and elevated blood pressure at the health screening program were predictors of a pregnancy affected by hypertension. After adjusting for age and ethnicity, each 1 cm increase in waist circumference showed a 4% increased risk for hypertension in pregnancy (PR 1.04; 95% CI; 1.02-1.06); each 1 point increase in BMI showed a 9% adjusted increase in risk (1.09; 1.04-1.14). For each 1 mmHg increase in baseline systolic blood pressure there was an age and ethnicity adjusted 6% increase in risk and each 1 mmHg increase in diastolic blood pressure showed a 7% increase in risk (1.06; 1.03-1.09 and 1.07; 1.03-1.11 respectively). Among those free of diabetes at baseline, the presence of the metabolic syndrome (International Diabetes Federation criteria) predicted over a three-fold increase in age-ethnicity-adjusted risk (3.5; 1.50-8.17).
Pre-pregnancy adiposity and features of the metabolic syndrome among these young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women track strongly to increased risk of hypertension in pregnancy with associated risks to the health of babies.
Indigenous; Pre-pregnancy; Hypertension; Preeclampsia
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates of obesity, chronic disease, and are less active than non-Indigenous Australian women. Lifestyle programs designed to increase physical activity and encourage healthy eating are needed to ameliorate this disparity. The aim of this study was to identify participants’ perceived barriers and enablers to attend group exercise classes as part of a 12-week fitness program.
To understand the factors that influence attendance, a mixed method process evaluation was undertaken in which a quantitative measure of attendance in the group exercise classes was used to identify cases for further qualitative investigation. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women aged 18 to 64 years were recruited to a research trial of a fitness program. The 12-week program included two 60-minute group exercise classes per week, and four nutrition education workshops. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at program completion. Participants were stratified by attendance, and interviews from the highest and lowest 25 percentiles analysed. Rigour was strengthened through use of multiple data analysts, member checking and prolonged engagement in the field.
Analyses of the post-program interviews revealed that participants enrolled in the program primarily for the perceived health benefits and all (with one exception) found the program met their needs and expectations. The atmosphere of classes was positive and comfortable and they reported developing good relationships with their fellow participants and program staff. Low attendees described more barriers to attendance, such as illness and competing work and family obligations, and were more likely to report logistical issues, such as inconvenient venue or class times.
Attendance to the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Fitness Program’ was primarily influenced by the participant’s personal health, logistics and competing obligations. Low attendees reported more barriers during the 12-week period and identified fewer enabling factors than high attendees.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000224022
Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Physical activity; Women; Lifestyle program; Health promotion; Barriers; Facilitators; Participation
Prevalence and incidence of diabetes and other common comorbid conditions (hypertension, coronary heart disease, renal disease and chronic lung disease) are extremely high among Indigenous Australians. Recent measures to improve quality of preventive care in Indigenous community settings, while apparently successful at increasing screening and routine check-up rates, have shown only modest or little improvements in appropriate care such as the introduction of insulin and other scaled-up drug regimens in line with evidence-based guidelines, together with support for risk factor reduction. A new strategy is required to ensure high quality integrated family-centred care is available locally, with continuity and cultural safety, by community-based care coordinators with appropriate system supports.
The trial design is open parallel cluster randomised controlled trial. The objective of this pragmatic trial is to test the effectiveness of a model of health service delivery that facilitates integrated community-based, intensive chronic condition management, compared with usual care, in rural and remote Indigenous primary health care services in north Queensland. Participants are Indigenous adults (aged 18–65 years) with poorly controlled diabetes (HbA1c>=8.5) and at least one other chronic condition. The intervention is to employ an Indigenous Health Worker to case manage the care of a maximum caseload of 30 participants. The Indigenous Health Workers receive intensive clinical training initially, and throughout the study, to ensure they are competent to coordinate care for people with chronic conditions. The Indigenous Health Workers, supported by the local primary health care (PHC) team and an Indigenous Clinical Support Team, will manage care, including coordinating access to multidisciplinary team care based on best practice standards. Allocation by cluster to the intervention and control groups is by simple randomisation after participant enrolment. Participants in the control group will receive usual care, and will be wait-listed to receive a revised model of the intervention informed by the data analysis. The primary outcome is reduction in HbA1c measured at 18 months. Implementation fidelity will be monitored and a qualitative investigation (methods to be determined) will aim to identify elements of the model which may influence health outcomes for Indigenous people with chronic conditions.
This pragmatic trial will test a culturally-sound family-centred model of care with supported case management by IHWs to improve outcomes for people with complex chronic care needs. This trial is now in the intervention phase.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTR12610000812099
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Diabetes; Indigenous Health Worker; Partnerships; HbA1c control
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes than non-Indigenous Australian women. Increasing physical activity, improving diets and losing weight have been shown to reduce cardio metabolic risk. The primary aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 12-week structured exercise and nutrition program in a cohort of urban Indigenous Australian women on waist circumference, weight and biomedical markers of metabolic functioning from baseline (T1) to program completion (T2). The secondary aim assessed whether these outcomes were maintained at 3-month follow-up.
One hundred Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women aged 18–64 years living in the Adelaide metropolitan area were recruited. The program included two 60-minute group cardiovascular and resistance training classes per week, and four nutrition education workshops. Participants were randomly assigned to an ‘active’ group or ‘waitlisted’ control group. Body weight, height, waist and hip circumference, blood pressure, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1C), lipid profile and C-reactive protein (CRP) were assessed at baseline (T1), immediately after the program (T2) and three months post program (T3).
The active group showed modest reductions in weight and body mass index (BMI). Compared to the waitlisted group, the active group had a statistically significantly change in weight and BMI from baseline assessments; at T2, -1.65 kg and -0.66 kg/m2 and at T3, -2.50 kg and -1.03 kg/m2, respectively. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure also had a statistically significant difference from baseline in the active group compared to the waitlisted group at T2, -1.24 mmHg and -2.46 mmHg and at T3, -4.09 mmHg and -2.17 mmHg, respectively. The findings were independent of the baseline measure of the outcome variable, age, households with children and employment status. Changes in waist circumference and other clinical measures were not significant at T2 or T3. The primary outcome measure, waist circumference, proved problematic to assess reliably. Missing data and participants lost to follow-up were significant.
This 12-week exercise program demonstrated modest reductions in weight, BMI and blood pressure at T2, which improved further at 3-month follow-up (T3). Positive intervention effects were observed despite low attendance at exercise classes. Structured exercise programs implemented in community settings require attention to understanding the barriers to participation for this high risk group.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000224022
Aboriginal; Torres strait islander; Physical activity; Women; Lifestyle program; Health promotion
To develop an instrument that predicts diabetes-related vascular disease severity using routinely collected data on Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with type 2 diabetes, in the absence of diabetes duration.
A complex diabetes severity classification system was simplified and adapted for use with an Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adult population with type 2 diabetes in north Queensland. Detailed vascular health risks and morbidities were mapped to routinely collected measures. Individual–level health screening, hospital separation and mortality data were linked and used to plot mean monthly in-patient hospital cost and percent mortality by disease severity as defined by the newly developed instrument, to test construct validity.
The revised instrument consists of four combined diabetes-related microvascular and macrovascular stages that range from least severe (stage 1) to severe irreversible vascular impairment (stage 4). When applied to data of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian population the instrument showed good construct validity, predicting higher hospital cost and mortality as vascular disease severity increased.
This instrument discriminates between levels of diabetes-related vascular disease severity, displays good construct validity by predicting increased hospital cost and mortality with worsening severity and can be populated with routinely collected data. It may assist with future health service research and its use could be extended to practice settings for health care planning for diabetes management programs and monitoring vascular disease progression.
Diabetes vascular staging instrument; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
This study examined associations of abdominal adiposity with lung function, asthma symptoms and current doctor-diagnosed asthma and mediation by insulin resistance (IR) and sleep disordered breathing (SDB).
A random sample of 2500 households was drawn from the community of Whyalla, South Australia (The Whyalla Intergenerational Study of Health, WISH February 2008 - July 2009). Seven-hundred twenty-two randomly selected adults (≥18 years) completed clinical protocols (32.2% response rate). Lung function was measured by spirometry. Post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC was used to measure airway obstruction and reversibility of FEV1 was calculated. Current asthma was defined by self-reported doctor-diagnosis and evidence of currently active asthma. Symptom scores for asthma (CASS) and SDB were calculated. Intra-abdominal fat (IAF) was estimated using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). IR was calculated from fasting glucose and insulin concentrations.
The prevalence of current doctor-diagnosed asthma was 19.9% (95% CI 16.7 – 23.5%). The ratio of observed to expected cases given the age and sex distribution of the population was 2.4 (95%CI 2.1, 2.9). IAF was not associated with current doctor-diagnosed asthma, FEV1/FVC or FEV1 reversibility in men or women but was positively associated with CASS independent of IR and SDB in women. A 1% increase in IAF was associated with decreases of 12 mL and 20 mL in FEV1 and FVC respectively in men, and 4 mL and 7 mL respectively in women. SDB mediated 12% and 26% of these associations respectively in men but had minimal effects in women.
In this population with an excess of doctor-diagnosed asthma, IAF was not a major factor in airway obstruction or doctor-diagnosed asthma, although women with higher IAF perceived more severe asthma symptoms which did not correlate with lower FEV1. Higher IAF was significantly associated with lower FEV1 and FVC and in men SDB mechanisms may contribute up to one quarter of this association.
Airway obstruction; Forced Expiratory Volume; Forced Vital Capacity; Asthma; Abdominal adiposity; Sleep disordered breathing
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a higher prevalence and incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes than non-Indigenous Australian women. Physical inactivity is a key modifiable risk factor for obesity and evidence shows that even modest reductions in waist circumference (WC) have significant health benefits. Trialing physical activity programs in difficult-to-reach high risk groups, especially urban Indigenous Australians poses distinct implementation challenges.
The trial objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of a structured 12-week physical activity group program with nutritional advice. The design is a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. This study protocol describes the implementation and evaluation of the program. Participants are randomised into either an intervention or waitlisted group. The waitlisted group have a 12 month waiting period before commencing the 12-week program. Participant data is collected at baseline, 12, 24 and 52 weeks. Participants are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, aged 18-64 years with a waist circumference greater than 80 centimetres residing in Adelaide. The primary outcome measure is WC change immediately post program from baseline. Secondary outcomes include short term and long term changes in WC, weight, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, insulin, insulin resistance (calculated HOMA), haemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), triglycerides and C-reactive protein (CRP). Behavioural and psychosocial surveys are administered to assess physical activity, dietary intake and the participant's motivation, self-efficacy and perceived social support for physical activity. Qualitative interviews focusing on participants' motivation, enablers and barriers to healthy eating and physical activity will be undertaken. Implementation fidelity and participation are also assessed.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Fitness Program (WFP) is designed to provide a rigorous physiological and client-based evaluation of a structured 12-week program aimed to increase metabolic fitness and reduce WC in this high risk population. Evaluation results aim to provide the support necessary to design programs that are accessible, affordable and effective at reducing WC, while also improving the metabolic profile of overweight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000224022
This paper initially describes premature mortality by Aboriginality in South Australia during 1999 to 2006. It then examines how these outcomes vary across area level socio-economic disadvantage and geographic remoteness.
The retrospective, cross-sectional analysis uses estimated resident population by sex, age and small areas based on the 2006 Census, and Unit Record mortality data. Premature mortality outcomes are measured using years of life lost (YLL). Subsequent intrastate comparisons are based on indirect sex and age adjusted YLL results. A multivariate model uses area level socio-economic disadvantage rank, geographic remoteness, and an interaction between the two variables to predict premature mortality outcomes.
Aboriginal people experienced 1.1% of total deaths but 2.2% of YLL and Aboriginal premature mortality rates were 2.65 times greater than the South Australian average. Premature mortality for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people increased significantly as area disadvantage increased. Among Aboriginal people though, a significant main effect for area remoteness was also observed, together with an interaction between disadvantage and remoteness. The synergistic effect shows the social gradient between area disadvantage and premature mortality increased as remoteness increased.
While confirming the gap in premature mortality rates between Aboriginal South Australians and the rest of the community, the study also found a heterogeneity of outcomes within the Aboriginal community underlie this difference. The results support the existence of relationship between area level socio-economic deprivation, remoteness and premature mortality in the midst of an affluent society. The study concludes that vertically equitable resourcing according to population need is an important response to the stark mortality gap and its exacerbation by area socio-economic position and remoteness.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the single greatest contributor to the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Our objective is to determine if holistic CVD risk assessment, introduced as part of the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adult Health Check (AHC), results in better identification of elevated CVD risk, improved delivery of preventive care for CVD and improvements in the CVD risk profile for Aboriginal adults in a remote community.
Interrupted time series study over six years in a remote primary health care (PHC) service involving Aboriginal adults identified with elevated CVD risk (N = 64). Several process and outcome measures were audited at 6 monthly intervals for three years prior to the AHC (the intervention) and three years following: (i) the proportion of guideline scheduled CVD preventive care services delivered, (ii) mean CVD medications prescribed and dispensed, (iii) mean PHC consultations, (iv) changes in participants' CVD risk factors and estimated absolute CVD risk and (v) mean number of CVD events and iatrogenic events.
Twenty-five percent of AHC participants were identified as having elevated CVD risk. Of these, 84% had not been previously identified during routine care. Following the intervention, there were significant improvements in the recorded delivery of preventive care services for CVD (30% to 53%), and prescription of CVD related medications (28% to 89%) (P < 0.001). Amongst participants there was a 20% relative reduction in estimated absolute CVD risk (P = 0.004) following the intervention. However, there were no significant changes in the mean number of PHC consultations or mean number of CVD events or iatrogenic events.
Holistic CVD risk assessment during an AHC can lead to better and earlier identification of elevated CVD risk, improvement in the recorded delivery of preventive care services for CVD, intensification of treatment for CVD, and improvements in participants' CVD risk profile. Further research is required on strategies to reorient and restructure PHC services to the care of chronic illness for Aboriginal peoples in remote areas for there to be substantial progress in decreasing excess CVD related mortality.
This study assessed whether the number of comorbid conditions unrelated to diabetes was associated with a delay in therapeutic progression of diabetes treatment in Australian veterans.
A retrospective cohort study was undertaken using data from the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) claims database between July 2000 and June 2008. The study included new users of metformin or sulfonylurea medicines. The outcome was the time to addition or switch to another antidiabetic treatment. The total number of comorbid conditions unrelated to diabetes was identified using the pharmaceutical-based comorbidity index, Rx-Risk-V. Competing risk regression analyses were conducted, with adjustments for a number of covariates that included age, gender, residential status, use of endocrinology service, number of hospitalisation episodes and adherence to diabetes medicines. Overall, 20134 veterans were included in the study. At one year, 23.5% of patients with diabetes had a second medicine added or had switched to another medicine, with 41.4% progressing by 4 years. The number of unrelated comorbidities was significantly associated with the time to addition of an antidiabetic medicine or switch to insulin (subhazard ratio [SHR] 0.87 [95% CI 0.84–0.91], P<0.001). Depression, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, and Parkinson's disease were individually associated with a decreased likelihood of therapeutic progression. Age, residential status, number of hospitalisations and adherence to anti-diabetic medicines delayed therapeutic progression.
Increasing numbers of unrelated conditions decreased the likelihood of therapeutic progression in veterans with diabetes. These results have implications for the development of quality measures, clinical guidelines and the construction of models of care for management of diabetes in elderly people with comorbidities.
The interaction between overweight/obesity and alcohol intake on liver enzyme concentrations have been demonstrated. No studies have yet examined the interaction between metabolic syndrome or multiple metabolic risk factors and alcohol intake on liver enzymes. The aim of this study was to examine if alcohol consumption modifies the effect of metabolic risk on elevated serum GGT in Indigenous Australians.
Data were from N = 2609 Indigenous Australians who participated in a health screening program in rural far north Queensland in 1999-2000 (44.5% response rate). The individual and interactive effects of metabolic risk and alcohol drinking on elevated serum GGT concentrations (≥50 U/L) were analyzed using logistic regression.
Overall, 26% of the population had GGT≥50 U/L. Elevated GGT was associated with alcohol drinking (moderate drinking: OR 2.3 [95%CI 1.6 - 3.2]; risky drinking: OR 6.0 [4.4 - 8.2]), and with abdominal obesity (OR 3.7 [2.5 - 5.6]), adverse metabolic risk cluster profile (OR 3.4 [2.6 - 4.3]) and metabolic syndrome (OR 2.7 [2.1 - 3.5]) after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, physical activity and BMI. The associations of obesity and metabolic syndrome with elevated GGT were similar across alcohol drinking strata, but the association of an adverse metabolic risk cluster profile with elevated GGT was larger in risky drinkers (OR 4.9 [3.7 - 6.7]) than in moderate drinkers (OR 2.8 [1.6 - 4.9]) and abstainers (OR 1.6 [0.9 - 2.8]).
In this Indigenous population, an adverse metabolic profile conferred three times the risk of elevated GGT in risky drinkers compared with abstainers, independent of sex and ethnicity. Community interventions need to target both determinants of the population's metabolic status and alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of elevated GGT.
Strengthening primary health care is critical to reducing health inequity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Audit and Best practice for Chronic Disease Extension (ABCDE) project has facilitated the implementation of modern Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) approaches in Indigenous community health care centres across Australia. The project demonstrated improvements in health centre systems, delivery of primary care services and in patient intermediate outcomes. It has also highlighted substantial variation in quality of care. Through a partnership between academic researchers, service providers and policy makers, we are now implementing a study which aims to 1) explore the factors associated with variation in clinical performance; 2) examine specific strategies that have been effective in improving primary care clinical performance; and 3) work with health service staff, management and policy makers to enhance the effective implementation of successful strategies.
The study will be conducted in Indigenous community health centres from at least six States/Territories (Northern Territory, Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria) over a five year period. A research hub will be established in each region to support collection and reporting of quantitative and qualitative clinical and health centre system performance data, to investigate factors affecting variation in quality of care and to facilitate effective translation of research evidence into policy and practice. The project is supported by a web-based information system, providing automated analysis and reporting of clinical care performance to health centre staff and management.
By linking researchers directly to users of research (service providers, managers and policy makers), the partnership is well placed to generate new knowledge on effective strategies for improving the quality of primary health care and fostering effective and efficient exchange and use of data and information among service providers and policy makers to achieve evidence-based resource allocation, service planning, system development, and improvements of service delivery and Indigenous health outcomes.
There is an overwhelming burden of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease among Indigenous Australians. In this high risk population, it is vital that we are able to measure accurately kidney function. Glomerular filtration rate is the best overall marker of kidney function. However, differences in body build and body composition between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians suggest that creatinine-based estimates of glomerular filtration rate derived for European populations may not be appropriate for Indigenous Australians. The burden of kidney disease is borne disproportionately by Indigenous Australians in central and northern Australia, and there is significant heterogeneity in body build and composition within and amongst these groups. This heterogeneity might differentially affect the accuracy of estimation of glomerular filtration rate between different Indigenous groups. By assessing kidney function in Indigenous Australians from Northern Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, we aim to determine a validated and practical measure of glomerular filtration rate suitable for use in all Indigenous Australians.
A cross-sectional study of Indigenous Australian adults (target n = 600, 50% male) across 4 sites: Top End, Northern Territory; Central Australia; Far North Queensland and Western Australia. The reference measure of glomerular filtration rate was the plasma disappearance rate of iohexol over 4 hours. We will compare the accuracy of the following glomerular filtration rate measures with the reference measure: Modification of Diet in Renal Disease 4-variable formula, Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration equation, Cockcroft-Gault formula and cystatin C- derived estimates. Detailed assessment of body build and composition was performed using anthropometric measurements, skinfold thicknesses, bioelectrical impedance and a sub-study used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. A questionnaire was performed for socio-economic status and medical history.
We have successfully managed several operational challenges within this multi-centre complex clinical research project performed across remote North, Western and Central Australia. It seems unlikely that a single correction factor (similar to that for African-Americans) to the equation for estimated glomerular filtration rate will prove appropriate or practical for Indigenous Australians. However, it may be that a modification of the equation in Indigenous Australians would be to include a measure of fat-free mass.
Problem Inhabitants of Torres Strait Islands have the highest prevalence of diabetes in Australia and many preventable complications. In 1999, a one year randomised cluster trial showed improved diabetes care processes and reduced admissions to hospital when local indigenous health workers used registers, recall and reminder systems, and basic diabetes care plans, supported by a specialist outreach service. This study looked at whether those improvements were sustained two years after the end of the trial.
Design Three year follow up clinical audit of 21 primary healthcare centres, and review of admissions to hospital in the previous 12 months.
Background and setting Remote indigenous communities in far north east Australia, population about 9600, including 921 people with diabetes.
Key measures for improvement Number of people on registers, care processes (regular measures of weight, blood pressure, haemoglobin A1c, urinary protein concentration, and concentrations of serum lipids and creatinine), appropriate clinical interventions (drug treatment and vaccinations), and intermediate patient outcome measures (weight, blood pressure, and glycaemic control). Admissions to hospital.
Strategies for change Audit and feedback to clinicians and managers; provision of clinical guidelines and a clear management structure; workshops and training.
Effects of change The number of people on registers increased from 555 in 1999 to 921 in 2002. Most care processes and clinical interventions improved. The proportion of people with good glycaemic control (haemoglobin A1c ≤ 7%) increased from 18% to 25% in line with increased use of insulin (from 7% to 16%). The proportion of those with well controlled hypertension (< 140/90) increased from 40% to 64%. The proportion admitted to hospital with a diabetes related condition fell from 25% to 20%. Mean weight increased from 87 kg to 91 kg.
Lessons learnt In remote settings, appropriate management structures and clinical support for people with diabetes can lead to improvements in care processes, control of blood pressure, and preventable complications that result in admission to hospital. Control of weight and glycaemia are more difficult and requires more active community engagement. Priorities now include increasing the availability and affordability of good food, achieving weight loss, and increasing appropriate use of hypoglycaemic agents, including insulin.