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Risks of severity and readmission of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children hospitalised for bronchiolitis


  • This work was carried out at the Menzies School of Health Research, Royal Darwin Hospital Campus, Casurina (Darwin) NT 0810 and at the QLD Children's Respiratory Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Herston Rd, Herston (Brisbane) QLD 4029.

  • Funding: AB Chang is funded by a practitioner fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia.

Ms Emily Bailey, Qld Children's Respiratory Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Herston Road, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia. Fax: (07) 3636 1958; email:


Objective:  To describe the characteristics of children admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital with bronchiolitis, and to compare the severity of illness and incidence of subsequent readmission in Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

Design, Setting and Participants:  Retrospective study of 101 children (aged ≤2 years) hospitalised with bronchiolitis to Royal Darwin Hospital between April 2005 and December 2006.

Main Outcome Measures:  Admission characteristics and indices of severity, treatment required (antibiotics etc.), reasons and incidence of readmissions (within 6 months).

Results:  Indigenous children had significantly more severe illness then non-Indigenous children (n= 80 and 21, respectively), longer hospital stay (median = 6 and 3 days; P= 0.001) and oxygen requirement (median = 3 and 0; P= 0.004), pneumonia (n= 14 and 0; P= 0.04) and antibiotics treatment (48 and 4; P= 0.001). The readmission rate for bronchiolitis was high (23%) with no significant difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

Conclusion:  Indigenous Australian children hospitalised with bronchiolitis have significantly more severe illness than non-Indigenous children. Points of intervention that can address this and the identified high readmission rate (within 6 months) are required.