Clinical Yarning

Improving communication and health outcomes for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with chronic pain.


Chronic conditions are the leading cause of illness, disability and death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders. Whilst Indigenous people constitute 9% of the North Queensland Persistent Pain Management Service catchment population, in 2015, only 3% of referred patients identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. The low representation of Indigenous people in the Pain Management Service may reflect that communication between Aboriginal patients and practitioners such as doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, continues to be problematic and may be a significant barrier to the delivery of successful health care to Aboriginal people.

Ineffective communication is an issue in pain management more widely, more so when there are cultural differences between health practitioners and Indigenous patients. Due to the disparity in health outcomes, greater investment and sustained efforts are required to positively advantage priority populations and overcome current inequities. Given the disease burden differentials, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are likely to experience significant and exacerbated pain conditions related to chronic disease and are also less likely to access care for these conditions.


This research project aims to develop and deliver a “Clinical Yarning” training program to Persistent Pain Clinicians and to evaluate the impact of the training in terms of patient and family satisfaction with services; clinical outcomes; and cultural safety/competence of health professionals.

Phase 1 Engagement with the community and health professionals to identify the unmet communication needs of patients and health professionals and to inform the development of a culturally sensitive communication training package for clinicians. The foundation of this training will be underpinned by the Clinical Yarning Education Program (framework developed by Lin et al, 2016) and the Queensland Health Cultural Capability training.

Phase 2 To deliver and evaluate Clinical Yarning (CY) training program for health professionals across Metro North Hospital, Metro South Hospital and Health Service (HHS) and the Townsville Hospital and Health Service health professionals. 


  • Deliver the Clinical Yarning (CY) culturally sensitive communication training program for health professionals;
  • Improve patient and family satisfaction with services and clinical outcomes;
  • Equip health professionals with culturally cognizant and sensitive communication skills;
  • Deliver a community communication model that will facilitate greater access to pain management services for Indigenous Queenslanders.


Our project team is guided by a Project Steering Committee (PSC) with members comprised of leading investigators, academics, policy, clinicians and researchers who are well regarded for their work in the Indigenous health sector.  The following PSC members regularly meet with our team to guide us throughout this research project

  • Mr Gregory Pratt, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • Mr Jermaine Isua, Queensland Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Capability Program
  • Dr Ivan Lin, University of Western Australia
  • Dr Matthew Bryant, Townsville HHS
  • Prof David Kavanagh, Queensland University of Technology
  • Mr Daniel Williamson, Queensland Department of Health
  • Prof Stephen Birch, The University of Queensland
  • Prof Paul Gray, RBWH, MNHHS and The University of Queensland
  • Dr Renata Meuter, Queensland University of Technology
  • Dr Stuart Ekberg, Queensland University of Technology


Mr Gregory Pratt, Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research

Dr Christina Bernardes, Project Manager – Clinical Yarning Study

Miss Kushla Houkamau, Indigenous Community Based Recruitment Officer – Clinical Yarning Study

Mr Corey Jones, Research Assistant – Clinical Yarning Study


If you have any queries or need more information on the project, please contact the Project Manager, Dr Christina Bernardes on the details below:

Dr Christina Bernardes

(07) 3362 0356