The journey of aftercare for Australia's First Nations families whose child had sustained a burn injury: a qualitative study

Julieann Coombes, Kate Hunter, Tamara Mackean, Rebecca Ivers

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BACKGROUND: Access to ongoing multidisciplinary healthcare services for children who have sustained a burn injury is critical for optimal recovery. This paper reports on barriers and facilitators to culturally safe and appropriate burn aftercare for Australia's First Nations children. The voices of First Nations families whose child had sustained a serious burn are central to this paper. METHODS: Eighteen families, which consisted of 59 family members, of children younger than 16 years who had sustained a burn injury were asked to describe their own journey in accessing appropriate burn aftercare. Interviews were conducted in the families' homes using yarning (dialogue) and Dadirri (deep listening) as Indigenous research methods. Data was gathered in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Using a cyclic process, transcripts and emerging themes were sent back to participants, and a collaborative approach was used to conduct the final analysis. RESULTS: Lack of culturally safe communication between service providers and family members, in addition to institutionalised racism, were found to be the major barriers to accessing healthcare services. Distance to medical treatment also impacted children's access to aftercare. Involvement of First Nations Health Workers and/or Liaison Officers working with health providers, the child and family members, was found to be an important facilitator in reducing miscommunication and alleviating fear and anxiety in the children and families. CONCLUSION: There are significant barriers to access to aftercare following a serious burn including miscommunication, lack of cultural safety, distance to medical treatment and racism. However, these can be largely mitigated when First Nations families have input into the care received and the care needed for ongoing burn care to be effective and are supported by First Nations Health/Liaison Officers support.

Original languageEnglish
Article number536
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

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  • Aftercare
  • Barriers
  • Burns
  • Children
  • Facilitators
  • First nations
  • Health workers
  • Liaison officers


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