Indigenous health study rolled out across Qld

Monday, 07 August, 2023

Indigenous health study rolled out across Qld

A project by the Mater Research Institute has placed health workers across Queensland in order to study the long-term wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The Indigenous Queensland Family Cohort (IQFC) study looks to identify First Peoples families during pregnancy and aims to monitor the health of participating mothers, fathers and babies over a period of five years.

A research arm of The University of Queensland, the institute study is led by Associate Professor Kym Rae, Mater Research’s Principal Research Fellow for Indigenous Health, and is working with First Peoples organisations, consumers and health services to identify priorities for research.

“Our aim is to provide both immediate interventions for participants and to inform long-term policy changes that will benefit First Peoples across the nation.

“Importantly, the study is also a mechanism to undertake early diagnoses that allow us to support the participant in making decisions about appropriate healthcare interventions for parents and their children.

The study found that First Peoples communities have a higher risk of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease, and struggle to get the appropriate care. Babies also face a higher risk of being born prematurely and with low weight.

The Indigenous health workers who will be at the frontline of the study will work with local community-controlled services, including health and hospital services, to give families access to the service.

“This project will allow families in need access to these healthcare services without going on lengthy waiting lists — which means better outcomes for kids in need,” Professor Rae said.

“We plan to improve our understanding of the drivers of long-term health for First Peoples, as well as to understand what can influence the development of disease.”

Assisted by a $4.69 m grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the study will place workers with 400 families. Launched at Mater’s South Brisbane health campus in 2022, the project will now be extended to cover the Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns communities and the Metro North HHS regions in Queensland.

Image: Research Assistant Loretta Weatherall (left), Associate Professor Kym Rae and Research Officer Luciana Massi.

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