Didgeridoos, songs and boomerangs for asthma management
by Robert Eley, Don Gorman and Jane Gately
Issue addressed: In Australia, asthma is more prevalent among Indigenous than non-Indigenous people. Awareness of asthma and compliance with management plans are poor, as is engagement with health services in general. The study explored whether offering culturally appropriate music lessons could enhance asthma awareness and engagement to improve asthma and general wellbeing.
Methods: Two studies undertaken in 2007 and 2009 offered music lessons to Indigenous asthmatics in a junior school and a senior school, an Aboriginal Medical Service and a community centre. Males were taught the didgeridoo and females singing and clap sticks. Associated activities of painting and boomerang throwing were offered. At regular intervals participants were assessed for their asthma status. At completion participants reported on the benefits of the study.
Results: Excellent retention occurred in Study 1 for adolescents and junior males but was poor for junior females and adults. Contributory factors to retention were parental and school support for minors and other health factors for adults. Respiratory function improved in males and both males and females reported increased wellbeing. In Study 2 retention of all participants was excellent. In addition there was increased engagement of both participants and their families with medical services. In both studies awareness of asthma and compliance with asthma management plans increased. Social skills improved as did cultural awareness.
Conclusion: The offering of music lessons is a culturally appropriate and enjoyable intervention to promote asthma, general health awareness and engagement with medical services.
Key words: asthma, Indigenous, music, health and wellbeing, didgeridoo, Australia.
Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2010; 21:39-44
Providing culturally appropriate interventions is an effective mechanism to engage Indigenous people with medical services.