Aboriginal perspectives on recognising clinical deterioration in their child and communicating concerns to clinicians

Fenella J. Gill, Alannah L. Cooper, Pamela Laird, Gavin D. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and objectives: To explore the perspectives of family members of Aboriginal children about a) their involvement in recognising clinical deterioration in a hospital setting and b) the effectiveness of a poster designed to promote family involvement. Background: To assist in the early recognition and response to clinical deterioration for hospitalised children, many escalation of care processes now include family involvement. Little is currently known about the perspectives of Australian Aboriginal families in recognising deterioration in their child and raising the alarm, or if current escalation of care systems meet the needs of Aboriginal families. Design: Qualitative pragmatist approach using semi-structured interviews. Methods: Seven interviews were conducted with five mothers and two grandmothers of Aboriginal children who were inpatients at a children's hospital. Thematic analysis was undertaken. Findings: Two themes were identified: Theme one was: Family role in recognising and responding to clinical deterioration, with two subthemes of knowing when to worry and communicating concerns. Participants reported that some families needed more knowledge to recognise clinical deterioration. Communication barriers between families and clinicians were identified. Theme two was: Effective visual communication with three subthemes of linguistic clarity, visual appeal and content. Conclusions: Additional strategies are needed to promote effective communication between clinicians and families of Aboriginal children in hospital. Posters were considered effective, particularly if including a cultural connection, images and simplified language. Practice implications: These insights provide important information for health professionals and health service managers to be aware that additional communication strategies are required to support Aboriginal family involvement in recognising clinical deterioration and escalation of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e10-e17
JournalJournal of Pediatric Nursing
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


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