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Study Profile

Getting started 

A team of 12 Aboriginal researchers recruited women who had an Aboriginal baby in South Australia between July 2011 and June 2013 to take part in the study. 344 women completed a questionnaire about their pregnancy and birthing care, and support that they received from services after their baby was born. The questionnaire also asked about things happening in women’s lives during and after their pregnancy, and what helped them to stay strong and resilient.

The women and children in the study come from urban, regional and remote areas of South Australia. Around a quarter of all Aboriginal women who had a baby in South Australia in the study period are taking part. Mothers in the study range in age from 15 to 45 years, with a mean age of 25.

Results from the baseline study (wave one)

Findings from the baseline study have been reported in academic papers and policy briefs designed to facilitate more rapid translation of results into policy and practice. (see publications page for details)

Major findings:

  • Women attending Aboriginal Family Birthing Program services and/or Aboriginal community controlled health services reported the most positive experiences of antenatal care.
  • The expansion of Aboriginal Family Birthing Program services in metropolitan and regional areas has improved access to antenatal care for Aboriginal families in South Australia.
  • Things that women found helpful during pregnancy included: home visits with midwives and Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) Workers; transport to get to services; seeing the same AMIC worker, midwife or doctor.

These findings have been used to inform the re-design and expansion of the Aboriginal Family Birthing Program at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the new model of care being introduced by the Child and Family Health Service in South Australia.

Follow up of mothers and children in the study at age 5-6 years (wave two)

In wave two of the study, we are:

  • inviting mothers/carers of the study children to complete an interview/questionnaire around the time that the children in the study are starting primary school
  • inviting children to participate in activities to assess their cognitive, speech and language development.

By collecting this information, we will be able to look at:

  • how the health and wellbeing of mothers and children changes over time
  • what factors promote health, wellbeing and resilience.

A pilot study and discussion groups to inform development of study procedures for wave two were completed in 2017. Ethics approval has been obtained from the Aboriginal Health Research Ethics Committee of South Australia, Department of Education Ethics Committee and Royal Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee.

The Aboriginal Families Study team are currently visiting communities to re-connect with women and families who took part in the baseline study (wave one) and inviting them to take part in wave two.