Acute respiratory illnesses like coughs, colds and flu are major causes of poor health and preventable death in Indigenous children. Despite this, there has been a lack of research focussing on these infections beyond hospitalisation data. In addition, despite the majority of Australia's Indigenous population living in urban areas, the studies that have been done have been limited to those in remote areas. The project will explore the epidemiological, clinical, microbiological, social, cultural and economic factors associated with these illnesses. Children presenting to an Indigenous specific primary health care service will be followed for 12 months following an acute illness to examine the outcomes and impact of those illnesses.


To study in detail acute respiratory illnesses and their outcomes in urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Brisbane, Queensland.

Study outcomes:

  • Quality of life is significantly impaired at first presentation, but significantly improves over the first two weeks. Cough severity and financial burden had the highest impact on quality of life, and highlights how cough needs effective management to reduce the burden and children and their families.
  • There is a considerable burden of acute respiratory infections with one in ten children experiencing more than three episodes over a 12 month period and one in five children developing a chronic cough, some with a serious underlying disorder.

Publications from the study 

Qual Life Res. 2018 Apr;27(4):891-903. doi: 10.1007/s11136-017-1779-y

Front Pediatr. 2017 Oct 31;5:228. doi: 10.3389/fped.2017.00228

Funded: NHMRC
Lead investigator
Dr Kerry-Ann O’Grady
Chief investigator
Dr Kerry-Ann O’Grady
Project period