Research improving burns treatment for Aboriginal children

28 August 2015

Burns in children can be a devastating injury, causing life-long scarring and loss of function in multiple ways. Unfortunately, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are hospitalised for serious burns and scalds at twice the rate of other children. Researchers within the Children’s Hospital Burns Research Institute (CHBRI) are hoping their research will help close the gap on serious burns in Aboriginal children.

Research led by CHBRI’s Prof Andrew Holland has shown that first aid for burns is often “too little, too late and often wrong”. In partnership with The George Institute for Global Health, the CHBRI are now identifying the gaps and barriers to health care in a cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who sustain serious burns in four states across Australia.

The research investigators are documenting the extent to which these barriers contribute to inequalities in health outcomes from the perspective of the patient, their families, and their health care providers.The team is also teasing out what compromises cost-effective, clinically and culturally appropriate treatment for burns injuries. This research will eventually inform development of improved models of care for what is an over-represented and vulnerable population.

Exploring the complexities of burn care for Aboriginal Australians is serving as a model for engaging health system reform that meets the needs of other disadvantaged groups in Australians, including people of low income and of non-English speaking background, as well as the broader population. 

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