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Open Access Research article

Children admitted to hospital following unintentional injury: perspectives of health service providers in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Shanthi Ameratunga1*, Sally Abel2, Sandar Tin Tin1, Lanuola Asiasiga3, Sharon Milne2 and Sue Crengle2

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Te Kupenga Hauora Māori (Section of Māori Health), School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

3 The Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research & Evaluation, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:333  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-333

Published: 7 December 2010

Abstract

Background

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death and hospitalisation among New Zealand children, with indigenous Māori and ethnic minority Pacific children significantly over represented in these statistics. International research has shown that many children hospitalised for injury, as well as their families experience high levels of stress, and ethnic disparities in the quality of trauma care are not uncommon. The research on which this paper is based sought to identify key issues and concerns for New Zealand's multi-ethnic community following hospitalisation for childhood injury in order to inform efforts to improve the quality of trauma services. This paper reports on service providers' perspectives complementing previously published research on the experiences of families of injured children.

Methods

A qualitative research design involving eleven in-depth individual interviews and three focus groups was used to elicit the views of 21 purposefully selected service provider key informants from a range of professional backgrounds involved in the care and support of injured children and their families in Auckland, New Zealand. Interviews were transcribed and data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results

Key issues identified by service providers included limited ability to meet the needs of children with mild injuries, particularly their emotional needs; lack of psychological support for families; some issues related to Māori and Pacific family support services; lack of accessible and comprehensive information for children and families; poor staff continuity and coordination; and poor coordination of hospital and community services, including inadequacies in follow-up plans. There was considerable agreement between these issues and those identified by the participant families.

Conclusions

The identified issues and barriers indicate the need for interventions for service improvement at systemic, provider and patient levels. Of particular relevance are strategies that enable families to have better access to information, including culturally appropriate oral and written sources; improve communication amongst staff and between staff and families; and carefully developed discharge plans that provide care continuity across boundaries between hospital and community settings. Māori and Pacific family support services are important and need better resourcing and support from an organisational culture responsive to the needs of these populations.