Assessment of a register-based rheumatic heart disease secondary prevention program in an Australian Aboriginal community

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2005 Dec;29(6):521-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2005.tb00243.x.


Objective: To assess specific performance indicators relating to a register-based acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (ARF/RHD) prevention program in a remote Australian Aboriginal community in order to identify the most appropriate avenues for improvements in delivery of services.

Methods: Information kept on the central ARF/RHD register was compared with an amalgamated dataset from three other sources. The community clinic charts of identified patients were reviewed for information regarding accuracy of diagnosis and the number of doses of benzathine penicillin received in the last year. Specific follow-up arrangements were assessed and compared with practice guidelines.

Results: The central ARF/RHD register contained the names of 58 of the 72 (81%) people identified in the community as eligible for inclusion. Only 42% (22/52) of people receiving antibiotic prophylaxis had received 80% or more of the recommended doses in the previous year; service delivery was significantly better for females than males (p = 0.004). Individuals in priority category 1 (most severe disease) were found to be receiving follow-up and investigation according to guidelines. About half the people in categories 2 (moderate disease) and 3 (mild disease) had been inadequately investigated and/or missed out on follow-up appointments.

Conclusions: The ARF/RHD prevention program in this large remote Aboriginal community is struggling to deliver services to a substantial proportion of people who require them. Specific interventions, especially those related to men's health, may be required to correct the problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Northern Territory
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group*
  • Penicillin G Benzathine / administration & dosage
  • Penicillin G Benzathine / therapeutic use
  • Registries*
  • Rheumatic Fever / drug therapy
  • Rheumatic Fever / prevention & control*
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / drug therapy
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Penicillin G Benzathine