Attendance at, and experiences of, urban hospital outpatient appointments: informing a new model of care for urban-dwelling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

Karen Wynter, Leanne Mullan, Tanya Druce, Gilbert Freeman, Graeme Maguire, Lauren Davidson, Harin Karunajeewa, Shane Crowe, Bodil Rasmussen

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectives To compare outpatient attendance rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ('Aboriginal') and non-Aboriginal patients at a large metropolitan health service in Melbourne, Australia, and to describe the barriers and enablers experienced by urban-dwelling Aboriginal patients in attending hospital outpatient appointments. Methods This study used a mixed-method approach. Proportions of referred patients who booked and attended outpatient appointments were extracted from a health service database. Aboriginal versus non-Aboriginal cohorts were compared using chi-squared tests. Eleven patients, one parent of a patient and two community nurses were interviewed by telephone to investigate perceived barriers and enablers to attending outpatient appointments among Aboriginal patients. Results Outpatient referrals were greater among Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal people; however, referrals were significantly less likely to result in an outpatient clinic booking and attendance for Aboriginal compared to non-Aboriginal people. Interview participants reported several barriers to attending appointments, related to logistical, quality of care and cultural factors. Suggested facilitators to make appointment attendance easier included: provision of transport support, improving clinic scheduling, utilising a variety of appointment reminder formats, providing food in waiting rooms, flexible appointment timing options, outreach services, access to Aboriginal support workers, improving communication and relationships with Aboriginal people, cultural awareness training for staff and the provision of culturally appropriate spaces. Conclusion Some barriers faced by Aboriginal patients in attending hospital outpatient appointments in urban areas can be addressed through implementation of enablers suggested by participants. Data have informed the development of a tailored, inclusive, culturally and consumer-focused appropriate hospital outpatient service model of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

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