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Communication Project

young aboriginal womanThe Communication Project is an adjunct project that aims to complement the findings of the other Kanyini Component studies: the Vascular Audit, Qualitative (KQS), Polypill and Electronic Decision Support Tool studies. It is funded separately from these studies and the suggested outputs will required additional funding.

The Communication Project will pilot interventions that address key communication needs of Australian indigenous communities using innovative evidence-based methods.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians suffer excessively from premature morbidity and mortality from chronic disease. These are complex illnesses and require multidisciplinary approaches to achieve optimal outcomes. Indigenous patients and caregivers are obliged to negotiate significant barriers in Australian health systems to engage with care and gain access to proven health interventions.

Previous work by our research team has found pervasive miscommunication between users of health services and the providers of their care. Not only is this substantially under-recognised, but it can lead to reduced access to care, negative experiences of care and thus bad health outcomes.

The development of a shared understanding of the illness experience is crucial for health professionals and their patients who come from different social, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Resources are sorely needed to facilitate this process.


The Communication Study addresses key communication needs within the framework used by the Qualitative Study. It will be guided closely by the findings of our qualitative study and the work of Research Fellow Suzanne Ingram, whose research draws in specific audience analysis, health promotion tools and applied communication platforms.


  1. To understand the communication needs of Indigenous communities which affect their level of knowledge and perceived need to engage with care in the prevention and management of Chronic disease.
  2. Through exploring the Indigenous experience of care including Indigenous participants’ different perspectives on health and wellbeing, illness, and accessing and utilising health services, we hope to provide critical insights into the mechanics of miscommunication in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander settings, how it arises and how it affects health outcomes
  3. To analyse current available communication tools regarding prevention in Indigenous Health and to develop interventions/ outcomes that will innovatively address the communication needs of the indigenous communities.


We aim to produce a range of outputs and educational materials about the clinical interactions and personal experiences in the treatment of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander patients with chronic disease illness. These outputs might include:

  1. A pilot of a radio series for Indigenous communities to encourage health promotion and engagement with care.
  2. An interactive multimedia website including regularly updated materials such as educator’s guide, featured stories, audio/video extracts and shared commentary pages
  3. A series of peer-reviewed journal articles and articles in Indigenous press.

Research and filming undertaken for the communication project has been incorporated, with appropriate acknowledgement, in the Australian story episode “Mandawuy’s story” broadcast on the ABC on 19 Oct 2009.

For further information regarding this project, please email Professor Alan Cass.