Improving Communication in Healthcare Services to Aboriginal People at Royal Darwin Hospital: Stages 1 and 2
Aims:

This study aims to improve the experience of care and health outcomes for Aboriginal people at Royal Darwin Hospital by improving the quality of communication. 

Objectives:

In Stage 1, we explored the barriers to achieving effective communication, including interpreter usage, and identified opportunities for improvement.
In Stage 2 (currently underway), an Interpreter Coordinator has been appointed at the hospital, and we are evaluating this role including impact on numbers of interpreter bookings, experience of use of the Aboriginal Interpreter Service, and impact on patient experience and outcomes. 

Summary:

Effective health communication is fundamental to ensuring quality and safety of health services but is particularly challenging when staff and patients do not share the same language and cultural background. Many Aboriginal patients at Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) do not speak English as their primary language. However, uptake of Aboriginal Interpreter Services is extremely low and on-site accessibility has decreased.

This is a multi-level partnership between RDH, Aboriginal Interpreter Services, Department of Health, Menzies School of Health Research and Charles Darwin University, providing Indigenous employment and capacity building.

After publishing findings from Stage 1 (https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12913-017-2689-y) and advocating for improved accessibility of interpreter services and other strategies to assist culturally competent communication, Top End Health Services have employed an Aboriginal Interpreter Coordinator, and have created extra Aboriginal Health Practitioner positions within acute medical services. The impact of these interventions are now being evaluated. 

Chief investigator:
Project officer:
PhD Student
Contact information:
Project dates:
  • 2015 - current
Funders: 
  • Charles Darwin University - Menzies School of Health Research - Supporting Stronger Partnerships program
  • Menzies School of Health Research small grants scheme
Investigators and collaborators:
  • Associate Professor Anna Ralph (Menzies/RDH)
  • Associate Professor Anne Lowell (CDU)
  • Mr Craig Castillon (Royal Darwin Hospital, Top End Health Services)
  • Ms Gail Madrill (Royal Darwin Hospital, Top End Health Services)
  • Ms Margaret Rajak (Royal Darwin Hospital, Top End Health Services)
  • Ms Galathi Dhurrkay (Aboriginal Interpreter Service /Menzies)
  • Mr David Alexander (Aboriginal Interpreter Service)
  • Ms Colleen Rosas (Aboriginal Interpreter Service)
  • Professor Alan Cass (Menzies)
  • Dr Brain Spain (RDH)
PhD student

  • Vicki Kerrigan
 

  1. The ‘Communicate’ Study : Poster

    The ‘Communicate’ Study : Poster

    Date

    A poster presentation on a study of patient-provider intercultural communication at Royal Darwin Hospital and consequently Aboriginal patient health outcomes, measured using quantitative and qualitative data.

  1. The 'Communicate' Study Poster: Improving communication with hospitalised Aboriginal patients to ensure quality and safety in healthcare.
    A poster presentation on a study of patient-provider intercultural communication at Royal Darwin Hospital and consequently Aboriginal patient health outcomes, measured using quantitative and qualitative data.
  2. Anna P. Ralph, Anne Lowell, Jean Murphy, Tara Dias, Deborah Butler, Brian Spain, Jaquelyne T. Hughes, Lauren Campbell, Barbara Bauert, Claire Salter, Kylie Tune and Alan Cass Low uptake of Aboriginal interpreters in healthcare: exploration of current use in Australia’s Northern Territory -  BMC Health Services Research.