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Beyond the Scars: Impacts of rheumatic heart disease in young Indigenous peoples

Mrs Vicki Wade, Institution: Menzies School of Health Research

2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award  

Years funded: 2022-2025  

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) causes permanent damage to heart valves and is a leading cause of death in young Indigenous people in Australia. Currently there is no cure. Young Indigenous people with RHD experience countless encounters with health care providers and multiple hospital admissions. This is traumatic for the young people, their families and communities. Young Indigenous people already carry the scars of intergenerational trauma, a legacy of colonization. The added trauma of RHD and its social and emotional impact can further worsen health outcomes. 

The aim of this research project is to explore the social and emotional needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (15 – 25 years) with RHD. The grant will support the build the capacity of an Aboriginal PhD student and community researcher, and build capacity of Aboriginal individuals and communities to advocate for their own needs – beyond the biomedical – that must be addressed to improve health outcomes.

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