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A unique trial of a smoking intervention for pregnant Indigenous women is the winner of the 2013 Medical Journal of Australia's (MJA) Medical Defence Association National Prize for Excellence in Medical Research for the best research paper published in the MJA in the previous calendar year.
Entitled An intensive smoking intervention for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: a randomised controlled trial, the winning paper was authored by a unique collaboration of researchers from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, the University of Newcastle, the Apunipima Cape York Health Council and the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.
Smoking rates for Indigenous women are high and a particular problem is the prevalence of smoking during pregnancy, which is thought to be about 50%.
In this trial - the first of its kind - 263 women attending their first antenatal visit at one of three Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services were randomly allocated to two pathways.
The intervention group was invited to participate in a program of tailored advice and ongoing support to quit smoking, delivered by a general practitioner and other health care workers. The 'usual care' group received standard advice and support from the GP at scheduled antenatal visits.
There was a high uptake of the intervention by the women to whom it was offered but this was a 'negative study' in the sense that smoking rates remained high at 36 weeks of pregnancy - 89% in the intervention group and 95% in the usual care group - a difference that was not statistically significant.
This was in some ways a disappointing outcome, especially as it came on the back of extensive background research from the research team. However, the judges from the MJA's Content Review Committee recognised that this research, conducted with robust and transparent methodology in a difficult real-world setting, contributes to the very important endeavour of improving the health of Indigenous women and their children.
Sponsored by Medical Defence Association National this prize awards the authors $10,000 cash.
Source: NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts