Otitis media in Aboriginal children: the discordance between burden of illness and access to services in rural/remote and urban Australia

Gunasekera, Hasantha, Morris, Peter S., Daniels, John, Couzos, Sophie, and Craig, Jonathan C. (2009) Otitis media in Aboriginal children: the discordance between burden of illness and access to services in rural/remote and urban Australia. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 45 (7-8). pp. 425-430.

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To compare the burden of otitis media (OM) managed by Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) practitioners and the availability of specialist ear health services in rural/remote versus urban Australian settings.

Design, Setting and Participants:

We mailed questionnaires to all Australian AMS medical practitioners managing children in December 2006. Questions addressed the frequency of childhood OM cases seen, and the availability and waiting times for audiology; ear, nose and throat (ENT); and hearing-aid services. We compared rural/remote and urban practitioner's responses using the c2 test with clustering adjustments.


Questionnaires were returned by 63/87 (72%) AMSs and by 131/238 (55%) eligible practitioners. Rural/Remote practitioners reported managing a greater number of children with OM per week than urban practitioners (1 df, P = 0.02) and a larger proportion of the children they managed having OM (1 df, P = 0.009). More rural/remote than urban practitioners reported relevant services were not available locally: audiology (11.1 vs. 0%, P = 0.038), ENT (33.3 vs. 3.9%, P = 0.0004) and hearing-aid provision (37.7 vs. 1.9%, P < 0.0001). More rural/remote practitioners reported audiology waiting times longer than the recommended 3 months (18.3 vs. 1.9%, P = 0.007). Equal proportions reported ENT waiting times longer than the recommended 6 months (13.9 vs. 11.3%, P = 0.7).


Rural/Remote AMS practitioners manage a greater OM burden than urban AMS practitioners, but affected children have less access to specialist ear health services and longer waiting times. One in five rural/remote Aboriginal children wait longer than recommended for audiology testing, and one in eight Aboriginal children nationwide wait longer than recommended for ENT services.

Item ID: 30361
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-1754
Keywords: Aboriginal; health inequalities; otitis media; paediatrics; workforce.
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2014 03:53
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111717 Primary Health Care @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920303 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Health System Performance (incl. Effectiveness of Interventions) @ 100%
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