Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Paediatric Asthma Re-admissions Study

This study was conducted by the Health Services Research Group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in partnership with the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Northern Hospital and Geelong Hospital. It aimed to identify reasons why children with asthma are at risk of needing to visit a hospital. Understanding these factors may lead to new ways to avoid hospitalisation which will improve the lives of the children and their families.

The study recruited 770 children over one year between 2017 and 2018 and is now complete. Recruitment was from three Victorian Hospitals (RCH, Northern Hospital, and Geelong Hospital) with ethics approval from the RCH Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

The parents/guardians who had brought their child to the hospital were sent letters after discharge notifying them that they would be contacted by the research team within 14 days if they didn’t decline further contact. Details of the recruitment process and the phone scripts can be provided on request from the investigators.

People who were not able to answer questions over the phone could opt to fill in the questionnaire online. People who responded over the phone gave verbal consent permitting access to their child’s medical record, to linking their data to other medical data sets and for permission for future contact. Those people that could not be reached by phone were called again or sent a text message with a link to the online questionnaire.

Those that used the online version provided their consent using MCRI's online REDCap database system that is also used to deliver the questionnaire.

There were no ethical issues raised with the use of the online questionnaire or the use of verbal or eConsent. The project was judged to be low risk but later required consideration of a waiver of the need for consent for data linkage and was therefore reviewed by the full committee.

Most participants were recruited by phone but almost one fifth (18.8%) used the online platform. The research team identified language as a potential barrier to recruitment, particularly at the Northern Hospital, and the use of digital platforms is seen as a potential option to address this in the future using the ability to translate into other languages or to use multimedia approaches to reach participants.

In order to document whether participants were readmitted to hospital, this project required access to Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS) data and revealed that as the Federal Department of Health requires original wet-ink signed consent forms to release data, they went via the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) as they do not require this and can accept verbal or online consent as well as a waiver of consent.

For further information about this Project please contact:

Principal Investigator: Prof Harriett Hiscock, Group Leader Health Services Research Group MCRI and Director Health Services Research Unit RCH

Chief Investigator: Dr Katherine Chen, Clinician Scientist Fellow Health Services Research Group MCRI and Paediatrician Dept General Medicine and Complex Care Hub RCH

Project Coordinator: Renee Jones, Research Assistant Health Services Research Group MCRI
T: 03 9936 6159

Other research teams/investigators: Rachel Pelly, Prof Lena Sanci, Prof Colin Robertson, Prof Peter Vuillermin, Dr David Fuller, Dr David Tran and Prof John Carlin.

RCH ethics: Dr Nitya Phillipson, RCH HREC