ABCD National Research Partnership - Sexual Health Tool


Eight years ago, the Audit and Best Practice for Chronic Disease (ABCD) project rolled out across Australia. The project concentrates on encouraging Aboriginal health care services to implement continuous quality improvement (CQI) processes to enhance care outcomes for their patients and eliminate barriers to providing best-practice quality care.

WACRH’s Involvement  

WACRH was involved in supporting 5 ABCD-registered health centres in WA, located in Roebourne, Fitzroy Crossing, Yalgoo, Mt Magnet and Geraldton, improve their patient-care services. Project Officer: Jacki Ward

WACRH researchers are also involved in developing and implementing a “Sexually Transmitted Infections and Blood Borne Viruses Audit Tool” to assist Aboriginal Health Care Centres to improve their delivery of care and services to affected patients. Researcher: Dr Barbara Nattabi

 Sexual Health Tool Project summary
The Need

Existing research indicates that:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (hereafter Indigenous) continue to suffer disproportionately from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood borne viruses (BBVs) compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are over three, thirty and over six times more likely to be notified among Indigenous people, respectively.
  • Newly acquired hepatitis B and newly diagnosed hepatitis C are 3 times more likely to be notified among Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Notification for STIs is particularly high among Indigenous people aged 15-29 years.
  • Indigenous Australians living in remote and very remote areas have reported significantly higher rates of several STIs compared to those in urban and regional areas. Reasons for this disparity include lack of accessibility to services as well as the quality of the sexual health care services provided, particularly in rural and remote regions of Australia.

Project Layout

WACRH is leading the development of the Sexual Health tool and accompanying protocol.

This tool aims to enable primary health care centres to implement concepts underlined through continuous quality improvement (CQI) methods and provide the best possible services to their patients.  It is being developed in collaboration with representatives from Indigenous health services and institutions, doctors, nurses, sexual health physicians, rural-based nurses, researchers from across Australia, and quality improvement practitioners.  All contributors to this project have a high level of knowledge and practical experience in Indigenous sexual healthcare, are familiar with best practice guidelines and emerging evidence.  Contributors also possess expertise in the practical application of audit tools within the ABCD quality improvement system.

Project Development and Implementation

Input from Health experts detailed above has contributed to the review of guidelines for screening and management of STIs across Australia. One21seventy tools and sexual health quality improvement literature was also assessed in order to develop a final list of indicators included in this tool.

The Sexual Health Tool project reflects current best practice recommendations for Indigenous primary sexual healthcare.  When finalised, the tool will be tested nationally in over 200 Indigenous primary health care services, recognising regional variation in best practice care.  

At the conclusion of the project, the tool and protocol will be transferred to One21seventy, for implementation into routine primary sexual healthcare CQI practice and used in patient auditing and screening situations.


This research addresses a significant public health issue.  This tool will enable sexual health workers across Australia to allocate their resources more effectively, build their clinical audit skills, and develop their capacity to set achievable objectives.   They will be able to better monitor improvements with the penultimate goal of reducing the transmission of STIs among the Indigenous population.

This project is funded through The Lowitja Institute.

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