AITHM James Cook University

Project Publications and Outcomes

Patient and Carer Resources

This longitudinal study will document cognitive health, wellbeing and recovery during the six-month transition period from hospital to home following traumatic brain injury for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in northern Australia, and their families.   Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians experience much higher rates of TBI than the mainstream Australian population.  Despite this, there have been no systematic studies regarding what is needed to support Indigenous Australians to successfully transition back into their community following traumatic brain injury.  This study follows on from an earlier study by Dr India Bohanna which identified key gaps in transition support, a lack of culturally appropriate strategies to encourage successful transition, and the need for in-depth research to quantitatively examine key sentinel events during transition for Indigenous Australians following traumatic brain injury.

The six-month transition period following discharge from hospital after a traumatic brain injury is critical. Research in the non-Indigenous population demonstrates that the transition period is typically when difficulties such as fitting back into the community, re-forming and maintaining social roles and relationships, gaining independence and securing employment begin. During the transition period, key sentinel events are defined as events, positive or negative, which arise during the transition period and may influence health and/or wellbeing.  This study will collect clinical and brain injury risk factor information, along with measures of cognitive function, transition events, mental health and community re-integration from participants at three time points: prior to hospital discharge, and at three and six months post discharge.

Study Objectives

This study aims to document the occurrence, predictors and outcomes of key sentinel events during the transition period for Indigenous Australians with traumatic brain injury. Specifically, the study aims to:

  • Understand the experiences of Indigenous Australians in the 6 months after brain injury
  • Understand cognitive and psychosocial outcomes after injury
  • Identify service provision needs
  • Determine rates of emergency department presentation and hospitalisation rates for head injury and traumatic brain injury in Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous Australians in northern Australia 

The identified areas of unmet needs and barriers to successful transition will help inform a targeted research translation strategy to maximise the likelihood of the research leading to changes in both practice and policy.

The research will focus on northern Australia, including the Northern Territory’s Top End and north Queensland (including north Western Queensland, the Gulf of Carpentaria region, Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands).

Funding body

The Indigenous traumatic brain injury project: the transition from hospital to home is funded by the by the National Health & Medical Research Council (Project #1081947).

Chief Investigators

The team of collaborating investigators has a combination of expertise, skills and an exceptional track record providing a unique opportunity to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians with traumatic brain injury.

Project Officer
Research Officer
  • Mrs Katrina Bird

For further information about the project please contact:

Dr India Bohanna

Telephone: 0427 445 162



Dr Michelle Fitts

Telephone: 0412 216 264


AITHM scientists are focused on improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and translating outcomes into improved healthcare outcomes.