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Models of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children admitted to tertiary services with burns

The George Institute for Global Health

  • Early-Mid Career Fellowship
Date Funded:
  • 1 February, 2017
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Catherine Hunter

Burn injury can be a traumatic event for both the child and their carer, requiring extensive, specialised care and protracted hospitalisations. For paediatric burn injuries, optimal outcomes are associated with good multidisciplinary care, consistent follow-up with high quality burns units, functioning family units, and early return to pre-burns activities. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over-represented in burn-related hospitalisations yet, no research until now has examined the outcomes of these children nor their access to care either immediately after the burn injury or following discharge from hospital.

In addition to being more likely to be hospitalised following a burn injury, unpublished data suggest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are less likely to be treated in a specialist tertiary burn service.(Moller, unpublished). The NSW ACI Statewide Burn Injury Service, NSW Burn Transfer Guidelines provides clear guidelines for paediatric burn referral to tertiary burn services. However, there is evidence to suggest these guidelines are inconsistently applied. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children treated at specialist tertiary burn services in NSW is lower than population expectations. Further, numbers treated in regional centres appear to be higher, suggesting children are not referred as per the guidelines.

This project will:
(i) identify the processes for referral and treatment of children who present to an emergency department in NSW with a burn injury,
(ii) describe awareness and understanding of the referral guidelines and
(iii) develop processes to facilitate more widespread, equitable and systematic referral processes leading to integrated care of the child
(iv) develop a new Model of Care for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child who presents with a burn injury.

Further, with a focus on core components of Integrated Care, the outcomes of this research will lead to better understanding and management of care for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child with a burn injury.