Holy Grail: early detection of chronic wet cough in Aboriginal children

Can you describe the aim of your research in 10 words?

Recognition and management of chronic wet cough in Aboriginal children

What do you know/have discovered about this topic so far?

  1. Aboriginal families who are empowered with culturally appropriate knowledge of disease will seek help.
  2. Primary care clinicians manage patients better after relatively simple solutions that were tailored to their individual circumstances, which included training in culturally safe management of protracted bacterial bronchitis.
  3. Strategies implemented are sustainable and potentially translatable to other settings and for other chronic diseases

What aspect of this research excites you the most?

The research approach: Partnerships with Aboriginal communities, research co-design where we are journeying together to find sustainable knowledge translation.

What’s your Holy Grail – the one thing you’d like to achieve in your research?

Close the respiratory health gap between Indigenous and other Australians.

What has been/will be your biggest hurdle?:

  1. Finding funding when “the problem” to be researched was not recognised as a health issue
  2. Normalisation of chronic wet cough by both families and primary care clinicians led to a disease flying under the radar

How long before your work impacts patient care?

Our work has already translated into clinical practice in Broome and 4 communities in the Kimberley and is now being driven into regions of the Pilbara and Perth metropolitan area. We expect widespread translation within 5 years.

Who has inspired you and why?

The Aboriginal children and their families of the Kimberley. Our First Nations are arguably one of the most vulnerable populations of our country and yet out of their “little” they gave their “all” by opening their community, their knowledge and lived experiences, and partnered with us to find sustainable solutions to address the inequality of respiratory health outcomes for Aboriginal children.

If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be?

My ears to keep listening. My eyes to keep seeing. My heart to keep feeling.

Pamela Laird is a finalist for the Ann Woolcock New Investigator Award. The presentations for this award will take place on Saturday, 23 May.

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