General Practitioners' Perceptions of Barriers to Servicing Aboriginal people with Acquired Communication Disorders in WA
Stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) occur at higher rates and at younger ages in Aboriginal adults as compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Approximately one third of people post stroke experience acquired communication disorders (ACDs) and cognitive communication disorders are also common following (TBI). General practitioners (GPs) are often the initial point of contact into the health system for people in the community, including those discharged from hospital and rehabilitation following stroke or TBI. GPs’ decisions about ongoing referrals and management of health conditions may have a considerable influence on the opportunities, decisions and care of Aboriginal people with ACD. However, there is almost no published information on how GPs view working with this client group and what issues they view as important or challenging. This presentation is based on individual and group interviews with 14 GPs working in metropolitan, and regional settings across WA and carried out as part of the larger NHMRC-funded Missing Voices study. Our presentation uses thematic analysis of these transcribed interviews to draw out key issues which GPs consider influences their ability to service Aboriginal patients with ACD, their understanding of the nature and potential recovery trajectories of ACD and perceptions of their clients’ needs. Our findings suggest that ACD is not always fully understood by GPs, presents with very particular challenges, and increases risk of falling through gaps in services. The communication difficulties experienced by Aboriginal people with ACD often compound an already complex picture of health and social care issues, and leave this population vulnerable to further disadvantage. More could be done to prepare, inform and assist GPs in managing Aboriginal people with ACD.