NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Improving participation by Aboriginal children in blood lead screening services in Broken Hill, NSW

Susan L. Thomas, Frances Boreland, David M. Lyle

NSW Public Health Bulletin 23(12) 234-238 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/NB11056 Published: 15 March 2012

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About the author/s

Susan L. Thomas | NSW Public Health Officer Training Program, NSW Ministry of Health

Frances Boreland | Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, The University of Sydney

David M. Lyle | Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, The University of Sydney

Corresponding author

Susan L. Thomas | s.thomas@flinders.edu.au

Abstract

AbstractLead poses a health risk to young children with detrimental effects on their intellectual development. Attendance rates for Aboriginal children at routine blood lead screening and at follow-up appointments in Broken Hill, NSW, have declined in recent years. This study sought to identify strategies to improve the participation of Aboriginal children aged 1–4 years in blood lead screening services in Broken Hill. Methods: Attendance rates during the period 2000–2010 were determined using the Broken Hill Lead Management database. From June to August 2011, Aboriginal community members, service providers and public health staff were invited to interviews and focus groups to explore barriers, enablers and suggestions for improving participation. Results: In 2009, 27% of Aboriginal children aged 1–4 years attended blood lead screening and 29% of these children with blood lead levels over 15µg/dL attended follow-up appointments. Barriers to participation in lead screening services included community perceptions, reduced service capacity, socio-economic and interorganisational factors. Enablers included using a culturally acceptable model, linking lead screening with routine health checks and using the finger-prick method of testing. Conclusions: The final report for the study included recommendations to improve participation rates of Aboriginal children including using social marketing, formalising collaboration between health services, supporting disadvantaged families and employing an Aboriginal Health Worker.