DIABETES across the LIFECOURSE – Northern Australia Partnership

Improving systems of care and services for people with diabetes and their families in rural and remote Australia (NT, FNQ & Kimberley)

Current Projects

What are the current priorities and projects of the Partnership?

The projects of the Partnership evolve over time with identification of priorities and available grant funding. Projects have relevant ethics and research governance approvals as required.

 

1. Growing knowledge about diabetes in Northern Australia

Epidemiological research is an important component of the Partnership’s work. This type of research aims to measure the burden of diabetes and understand the causes and consequences of diabetes at a population level. The goal is to use this evidence to guide policies and clinical practice so that they are effective in improving health and wellbeing.

Current projects include:

  • The Pregnancy and Neonatal Diabetes Outcomes in Remote Australia (PANDORA) study in the NT. PANDORA is an observational longitudinal birth cohort study that aims to assess both short- and long-term outcomes relating to diabetes during pregnancy. More than 1100 mothers volunteered to participate in the study between 2012 and 2017, about half of whom are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women. Some mothers had diabetes (pre-existing or gestational) and others did not. Detailed information about the pregnancy, birth and neonatal period was collected and ongoing follow-up of both the mothers and the babies is telling us more about the intergenerational impact of diabetes and the importance of maternal health before, during and after pregnancy.
  • A large collaborative study using existing data from health services to estimate and track the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people (<25 years of age) across Northern Australia.
  • The Intergenerational Health in the NT (I-HiNT) study is a large data linkage study which brings together deidentified information from birth records, hospital admissions and NT Government primary care services to look at trends in diabetes in pregnancy over three decades and the long-term impacts of diabetes during pregnancy on maternal and offspring health.

 

2. Improving diabetes-related systems of care, services and supports for women before, during and after pregnancy (maternal and child health in the first 2000 days)

Improving diabetes in pregnancy outcomes is vital for maternal and child health and to reduce the intergenerational impact of diabetes. Good quality data and a collaborative multidisciplinary approach across the region is essential to improve understanding of diabetes in pregnancy, identify areas for improvement within services and systems, and mobilise action.

Current projects include:

  • The NT & FNQ Diabetes in Pregnancy Clinical Register that functions as a clinical, quality improvement and epidemiological tool.
  • A complex health systems intervention based on formative work with health professionals across a range of services and disciplines to identify key models of care components and opportunities for improvement (2015 – 2020)
  • To work with families and communities to increase awareness about diabetes in pregnancy and co-design initiatives that reduce diabetes risk, including promotion of breastfeeding and healthy weight (2020-2025)

 

3. Enhancing care provision and prevention of youth type 2 diabetes

Managing youth type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity is challenging: it can be complex and many young people also experience mental health concerns, socio-economic disadvantage, food insecurity and issues associated with remoteness. As such, this program of work will adopt a number of collaborative approaches to ensure strategies are innovative and context specific.

Current projects include:

  • Co-design of youth-friendly, culturally appropriate models of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth with type 2 diabetes which aims to develop, pilot and evaluate culturally appropriate diabetes management programs for Northern Australia (Kimberley, Northern Territory and Far North Queensland).
  • Adaptation of the Tribal Turning Point Study in Central Australia to develop a culturally-safe behavioural diabetes prevention program among 6-11 year old Aboriginal children.