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Injuries for Māori result in considerable disability

EMBARGOED until 12.01am Friday 2 August 2013

Injuries for Māori result in considerable disability

Researchers at the University of Otago have found that many Māori are experiencing adverse outcomes three months after being injured. Almost 50% experienced problems with mobility and most were in extreme pain or discomfort.

The study by researchers in the University’s Department of Preventive and Social Medicine published in the New Zealand Medical Journal looked at a cohort of 566 Māori ACC entitlement claimants. The group is participants in the Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study (POIS), a longitudinal study of 2856 injured New Zealanders (aged 18-64 years).

Lead researcher Dr Emma Wyeth says one of the significant findings of the study is that Māori don’t necessarily need to be hospitalised after injury to experience poor outcomes three months after their injury.

“Many people seem to think they can fix, or recover from, an injury quite quickly, but this shows that most Māori are having problems three months after the event. What might usually be considered minor injuries are often not minor in terms of longer term outcomes,” Dr Wyeth says.

The study shows high rates of adverse outcomes were observed three months after injury. Half the cohort was still experiencing difficulties walking at three months; over two-thirds still had pain and discomfort; and more than half said they were experiencing some psychological distress. The overall prevalence of disability was high at 49%.

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Despite these poor outcomes, another study from POIS published by the same group in Health and Quality of Life Outcomes found that the majority of Māori participants considered their health at three months after injury to be ‘good or excellent’, with 71% reporting satisfaction with their lives. However, one-third were not satisfied with their lives as a whole.

“It’s possible that for our participants satisfaction with life in the face of pain and discomfort is ameliorated by positive social relationships such as support from whānau and other social networks,” explains Dr Wyeth.

The researchers say these findings highlight the need to identify improved injury prevention strategies for Māori, since injuries of varying types (and regardless of being hospitalised or not) can clearly have long-term impacts on health and well-being.

The findings also indicate the importance of appropriate and effective rehabilitation and for healthcare providers to put even greater emphasis on working alongside injured Māori in order to achieve better outcomes after injury.

The results will inform future analyses to identify factors that can be modified to improve post-injury outcomes for Māori.

This research was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Accident Compensation Corporation. Dr Wyeth was also supported by a Health Research Council of New Zealand Eru Pōmare Research Fellowship in Māori Health.

Details of the full publications:

Maclennan, B., Wyeth, E., Hokowhitu, B., Wilson, S. and Derrett, S. (2013) Injury severity and 3-month outcomes among Māori: results from a New Zealand prospective cohort study, N Z Med J, 126 No 1379; ISSN 1175 8716.

Wyeth, E.H., Derrett, S., Hokowhitu, B. and Samaranayaka, A. (2013) Indigenous injury outcomes: life satisfaction among injured Māori in New Zealand three months after injury, Health Qual Life Outcomes, 11:120.


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