The ECCO research stream, which aims to better understand and meet the needs of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians with osteoarthritis (OA), has had another early win. Researchers from this stream, including Tilini Gunatillake (PI), Peter Choong, Gail Garvey, Sam Bunzli, Michelle Dowsey, Toni Mason, and Penny O’Brien, were recently awarded a competitive grant by the Research Endowment Fund. The grant opportunity, which called for research that hopes to address health inequity in vulnerable populations, was a perfect fit for the work being done by the ECCO team.
The proposed research project hopes to help us better understand the effect of joint pain on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients. To date, this kind of understanding has been difficult to cultivate because there is limited awareness of the impact of OA within many Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities. The fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders access care for OA at half the expected rate makes this abundantly clear. The proposed project hopes to overcome this barrier by exploring the the beliefs of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients who have been admitted to SVHM for other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which often co-exist with OA. The research will explore what pain in these patients’ joints means to them, and provide insight into how they manage and cope with such pain. By championing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander voices this body of research will ultimately provide a clearer understanding of how OA care might be delivered in a more equitable and culturally secure manner.