Evaluating performance of and organisational capacity to deliver brief interventions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services


Correspondence to:
Katie Panaretto, Population Health Hub, Queensland Aboriginal & Islander Health Council, PO Box 3205, South Brisbane, QLD 4101. Fax: (07) 3844 1544; e-mail: katiepanaretto@qaihc.com.au


Objective: This study assessed brief intervention (BI) activity and organisation capacity for smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity (SNAP framework) and key clinical prevention activities in four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services in Queensland.

Methods: A mixed methods design was used including: staff surveys of knowledge and attitudes (n=39), focus groups to discuss perceived barriers and enablers and chart audits (n=150) to quantify existing BI activity.

Results: Of 50 clinical staff, 46 participated in the staff survey and focus groups across the four sites. BI was perceived to be important. There was significant variation in completion of records for SNAP risk factors, key clinical and BI activities across the sites. At least one SNAP factor status was recorded in 130/150 (86.7%) patient charts audited and there was a significant trend of increased recording of SNAP factors with increasing number of patient visits. Of those identified at risk 78% received at least one BI. Where risk was identified 65/96 (67.7%) patients required multiple BIs. BI for tobacco use was consistently high across all sites. Only one site recorded regular care planning and Adult Health Checks. Impacting factors included leadership, high staff turnover, multiple medical records and staff health status.

Conclusions: Inflexible staff training, competing health priorities and high levels of staff turnover were identified as key barriers to the delivery of BI in clinical settings. The data suggests a good base of existing BI activity for smoking and key clinical activities which may improve with further support.