Developing a health information system to support continuous improvement in antenatal care for Aboriginal women in the Central Australian region [Alukura]

Aboriginal women’s health continues to be an area of concern with many Aboriginal women suffering complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and babies having lower birthweights and higher levels of complications compared with non-Aboriginal Australians. In Central Australia there are two main providers of antenatal care for urban Aboriginal women: Congress Alukura and the NT Department of Health and Community Services (DHCS). Alukura is a branch of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and has been reviewed several times, most recently in 1998. In that review, Carter et al recommended further research which has led to the current project. The aim of this project was to develop an ongoing health information system to foster continuous improvement in antenatal care in the Central Australian Region, and to pilot the system at Congress Alukura and the Alice Springs Hospital. The system will be informed by the identification of features of quality antenatal care for Aboriginal women in Central Australia, and the development of indicators to capture these features.

The primary objectives of this project were to:

  • identify trends in the quality of antenatal care in Central Australia 1995-2004, and any strengths and weaknesses
  • identify associations between antenatal care factors and birth outcomes for Aboriginal women in central Australia
  • describe the characteristics of women accessing/not accessing Alukura and the Alice Springs Hospital
  • describe the clinical and other elements of quality antenatal care for Aboriginal women in Central Australia
  • make recommendations regarding useful indicators and monitoring of best practice
  • provide information to assist in planning of antenatal services and policy and practice guidelines
  • establish a health information system which may be transferable to other settings and regions
  • enhance the existing Alukura service through improved systems and abilities to support the delivery of quality antenatal care in stakeholder organisations
  • increase the ability of Aboriginal women to participate in research processes.

The project included four methodological components:

  • a literature review exploring the current systems of antenatal care, including those for Aboriginal women in Central Australia
  • a quantitative investigation into whether antenatal care in the Central Australia region has contributed to improvements in birth outcomes
  • a qualitative investigation into women’s perceptions and experiences of good antenatal care
  • the implementation and trial pilot of a system for ongoing evaluation of antenatal care in the primary health care setting.
Related resources:
  • Hancock, H, 2006, Aboriginal Women’s Perinatal Needs, Experiences and Maternity Services: A Literature Review to Enable Considerations to Be Made about Quality Indicators, Ngaanyatjarra Health Service, Alice Spring
  • Wilson, G. 2009, What Do Aboriginal Women Think Is Good Antenatal Care? Consultation Report, CRC for Aboriginal Health, Darwin [link]

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