Yeddung Gauar (Good Heart): A Women's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cardiac Rehabilitation Program delivered in a non-Indigenous Health Service
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is diagnosed in almost half of Indigenous Australians 55 years and over, and is the largest cause of premature deaths in this population. It is widely recognised that cardiac rehabilitation (CR) decreases mortality, improves risk profiles, decreases hospital admissions, increases medication adherence and improves quality of life in those diagnosed with CVD.
This project aims to evaluate the feasibility of a women's only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CR program in a non-Indigenous health service setting. It will assess the feasibility of incorporating enablers for Indigenous Australian CR participation following a cardiac event, or for those at medium-to-high risk of a cardiac event, providing a culturally safe CR program. This project aligns with contemporary knowledge about cultural safety and competence in health care settings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, where the best combination of strategies is unknown. Here, we will evaluate both the combination of improving access to a CR service; and improving health workforce cultural safety.
An 18-week mixed methods feasibility study will be conducted, with weekly CR sessions consisting of 1 hour of exercise and 30 minutes of education delivered by a multidisciplinary team, including an Indigenous Health Worker. Participants will be recruited from a variety of settings, with the aim to recruit a minimum of 20 participants. Data will be collected from participants at baseline, and at every sixth session attended. Outcome measures for participants will include; body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, random point-of-care lipid profile and blood glucose level, quality-of-life (MacNew questionnaire), exercise capacity (6-min walk test), and anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). In addition, assessment of health professionals’ cultural awareness and safety pre- and post-program will be evaluated via a questionnaire. Feasibility measures will include recruitment of participants, adherence to the CR program and drop-out rates. Qualitative data from participants will be collected at the end of the program and analysed thematically by an Indigenous researcher. Qualitative data will also be collected and analysed from staff at the end of the program.
If this program is successful further funding will be sought to conduct a larger study and investigate the Indigenous CR program in different settings. Should the health outcomes of the feasibility study be positive, it will help decrease risk factors for CVD, enhance quality of life and prevent initial and recurrent cardiac events within an Australian Indigenous population of Canberra.