• To understand the reliability of cough reported by Indigenous people to doctors and other health care workers.
  • To determine the reliability of a 24-hour history of cough taken from the accompanying carers of Indigenous children
  • To examine the validity of an Indigenous carers’ evaluation of a cough character in comparison to a clinician’s. 

This was an observational study comparing a reported history of cough with a digital audio recording of coughing over 24 hours for Indigenous children aged <14 years admitted to the Royal Darwin Hospital.

Cough is the most common symptom of respiratory disease. Reliable reporting of cough as a symptom is important in clinical practice, however prior to this study, there was no information on the accuracy of reporting of cough in Indigenous children.

Implications for policy and practice:

The unreliability of the reporting of cough by carers highlights the need for community education on the importance of cough. This may led to improved health seeking behaviour for cough, resulting in earlier detection and treatment of respiratory disease.

Our research has found:

Reporting of cough by carers was moderate to low, compared with the recorded coughing. In addition, the carer’s evaluation of wet cough disagreed with the clinician’s evaluation. 

Chief Investigator:
  • Matthew Morey, Menzies School of Health Research and University of Melbourne
  • Allen Cheng, Monash University and The Alfred Hospital
  • Gabrielle McCallum, Menzies School of Health Research
  • Professor Anne Chang, Menzies School of Health Research
Project Manager:
  • Matthew Morey
Contact information:
Project dates:

The project ran from 2009 - 2010.

  1. Morey, M. J., Cheng, A. C., McCallum, G. B., & Chang, A. B. (2013). Accuracy of cough reporting by carers of Indigenous children. Journal of  Paediatric Child Health, 49(3), E199-203.