While the burden of disease for chronic pain1 is high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, referrals to pain management services are low. Communication is an important determinant in the provision of accessible, quality healthcare.
This project aimed to improve communication between health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, by equipping practitioners with culturally cognisant and sensitive communication skills.
Training was delivered across three hospital and health services for Queensland, specifically Metro North Health, Metro South Health and Townsville Health and Hospital Service.
This research operationalises the wisdom and expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders by adapting Clinical Yarning Communication2 training to meet the needs and preferences of Queensland pain services and its patients. The program was underpinned by the Clinical Yarning Education Program (framework developed by Dr Ivan Lin) and the Queensland Health Cultural Capability training.
The one-day training experience was sensitive to the pain service setting and cultural protocol of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland.
By June 2021, training was delivered to all sites and approximately 57 clinicians of persistent pain management services.
Participants were surveyed before and after the workshop on their perceived importance of communication training, knowledge, confidence, and ability to communicate effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients experiencing chronic pain.
Significant improvements in the perceived importance of communication training, knowledge, ability and confidence to effectively communicate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients were identified. The greatest increase was in the perceived confidence of clinicians pre-training compared to post-training.
The outcomes of the clinical yarning project formed the basis for a successful two-year Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant application to replicate the training model for mental health professionals treating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
The project is now also the focus of a university subject at QUT. Project materials will be used to teach Faculty of Health students enrolled in the Communication for Health Professionals unit taught by Associate Professor Stuart Ekberg.
Project investigators engage with and draw up on the expertise of partners within universities, research institutes, and hospital and health services across Queensland and Australia.
Dr Andrew Claus, Research Development Officer, Tess Cramond Pain and Research Centre, Metro North Persistent Pain Service
1. O’Brien P et al. Tackling the burden of osteoarthritis as a health care opportunity in Indigenous communities – a call to action. J Clin Med. 2020, 9, 2393. doi: 10.3390/jcm9082393
2. Lin I, Green C Bessarab D. ‘Yarn with me’: applying clinical yarning to improve clinician-patient communication in Aboriginal health care. Aust J Prim Heath. 2016, 22, 377-882. doi.org/10.1071/PY16051
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