AITHM James Cook University

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Australian adults are hospitalised for infection at a significantly higher rate than their non-Indigenous counterparts, placing a heavy human and financial toll on communities.

AITHM research led by Professor Robyn McDermott is working to address the double burden of infection and diabetes, which will help streamline the delivery of health services and build workforce capacity at a community level.

New research published by Professor McDermott demonstrates that the rate of hospitalisation for infection among Indigenous adults is greatly exacerbated by the presence of diabetes. Professor McDermott found that Indigenous adults with diabetes are twice as likely to be hospitalised for infection as Indigenous adults without diabetes, most likely for urinary tract infections, cellulitis or septicaemia. Of those hospitalised, the length of stay for patients with the underlying chronic illness was almost twice that of those without diabetes, and recovery was much slower for patients with diabetes.

The research suggests that early recognition and management of infection in patients with diabetes in the primary care setting may reduce the risk, and better control of glycaemia and its risk factors may improve the underlying immune dysfunction.