Associate Professor Lata Jayaram
A/Prof Lata Jayaram is a Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Physician. Following clinical research fellowships at McMaster University, Canada, and Australia focusing on airways disorders, Lata has practiced
at Western Health and is affiliated with the University of Melbourne. She is a Clinician –Researcher with expertise in asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and bronchiectasis.
Project Status: In progress, beginning January 2022
Why was funding this research important?
In Australia, deaths from asthma are 2 times higher in those from areas of social and economic disadvantage, in younger patients and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Poor asthma control often results in frequent hospital visits, reduced quality of life, and time away from work and school. The North West area of Melbourne served by Western Health (WH) includes some of the most culturally and linguistic diverse (CALD) communities, with the highest rates of chronic disease in Australia.
The thunderstorm asthma crisis in 2016 also exposed major vulnerabilities in our communities. That evening at WH alone over 300 patients visited our emergency rooms with acute attack of asthma and across Melbourne there were 10 people who died from their acute asthma attack. A high proportion of these fatalities were amongst patients from CALD communities. Whilst national death rates in asthma have been falling with improvements in management and asthma education, the event of 2016 highlighted that there are major pockets in our communities where uptake of these initiatives remains poor.
“Whilst we have simple, effective strategies to manage asthma, they are not successfully integrated into clinical practice, especially in our patients who present frequently to hospital. We have shown that an early intervention asthma nurse led education programme improves asthma control. The generous funding provided by as Asthma Australia allows us to partner with CALD communities to trial a specifically tailored asthma education strategy.”
– Associate Professor Jayaram
What are the researchers doing?
While there are simple, effective strategies to manage asthma, they are not successfully integrated into clinical practice to help our patients who present frequently. Nurse led models of care have effectively reduced hospital admissions and improved clinical outcomes in chronic diseases such as emphysema, heart failure and diabetes. They have targeted an older population with multiple medical problems. We have recently shown in a pilot study that a shorter, earlier, nurse led intervention in younger patients can improve asthma control significantly and reduce flare-ups.
This study aims to build on existing local research by partnering with CALD communities to trial a linguistically and culturally tailored asthma education strategy that builds on our recently established early intervention asthma nurse lead education program.
Shortly following a hospital admission, patients from CALD communities with asthma will be seen by a Nurse educator and a Bilingual health care worker for a detailed asthma education session. They will be supported by phone and in person over the next few months. Their asthma control will be assessed with a validated questionnaire at the end of the study. By training Bilingual health care workers to work alongside our asthma nurse educator, we hope to demonstrate that such a tailor-made programme of asthma education will improve asthma outcomes.
“We hope that this research will improve asthma control, quality of life and the health care journey for all our patients.”
Associate Professor Jayaram