Ways of Thinking and Ways of Doing (WoTWoD) - An Indigenous Cultural Respect Program in General Practice

Project Details

Background/Rationale of Study

Since the Closing the Gap (CTG) Statement of Intent was signed in March 2008, progress on closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians has been slow. Australian primary care and General practice must work together with the Aboriginal community must work together to address this issue.

Following extensive exploration with the community (NHMRC Project ID 509334 in 2008-2011), we have developed a framework and implementation program, called ‘Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing’ (WoTWoD). WoTWoD uses a whole-of-practice clinical re-design process and care partnerships between general practice and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations. It aims to assist general practices to embed cultural respect within culturally and clinically appropriate health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. WoTWoD has been piloted in 2010-2011 and found to be feasible and acceptable to general practices.


To conduct a wide study (NHMRC project ID 1065491) to assess the effectiveness of WoTWoD.

Study Design

A cluster randomized control trial (cRCT), using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, will be conducted in Melbourne and Sydney.


General practices (58 total) will be recruited in Melbourne and Sydney and randomised into intervention or control groups.


General practice staff and selected Aboriginl and Torres Strait islander patients.


Study commenced in mid 2015 and is expected to complete by mid 2017. Final results will be reported to NHMRC and publicised accordingly in peer-review journals.


Dr Phyllis Lau, Senior Research Fellow
Associate Professor John Furler, Principal Research Fellow
Miss Nina Fitzgerald, Project Officer
Aunty Diane Kerr, (Wurundjeri Elder) Cultural Mentor


Professor SiawTeng Liaw, University of New South Wales
Professor Mark Harrsion, University of New South Wales
Dr Iqbal Hasan, University of New South Wales
Ms Vicki Wade, National Heart Foundation
Dr Rosa Canalese, GP Synergy
Professor Margaret Kelaher, University of Melbourne


National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant: (ID 1065491)  2014 - 2017 
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant: (ID 509334) 2008 - 2011

Research Outcomes

  • Lau P, Woodward-Kron R, Livesay K, Elliott K, Nicholson P. Cultural Respect Encompassing Simulation Training – Being Heard about Health through Broadband. Journal of Public health Research (accepted for publication Jan 2016).
  • Liaw ST, Harris M, Hasan I, Lau P, Kelaher M, Wade V, Canalese R. Improving cultural respect to improve Aboriginal health in general practice: a multi-methods and multi-perspective pragmatic study. Australian Family Physician 2015; 44(6): 387-92.
  • Lau P, Pyett P, Burchill M, Furler J, Tynan M, Kelaher M, Liaw S. Factors influencing access to Urban General Practices and Primary Health Services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians – A qualitative study. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples 2012: 8(1): 66-84.
  • Burchill M, Lau P, Pyett P, Kelly S, Waples-Crowe P, Liaw S. Aboriginalising our research process: ‘hunting and gathering’ as a focus group methodology. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies 2011: 4(2): 29-38.
  • Liaw S, Lau P, Pyett P, Furler J, Burchill M, Rowley K, Kelaher M. Successful chronic disease care for Aboriginal Australians requires cultural competence. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2011; 35(3): 238-48.
  • Lau P, Burchill M, Johnson B. Aboriginal health is not Aboriginal business ... it is everybody’s business. National Indigenous Times 20 Jan 2011; 217:36.
  • Burchill M, Lau P, Johnson B. Letter to the Editor: The Aboriginal Inclusion Framework Rights Yarn Up. Jun 2010; 5.

Research Group

Diabetes and Cardio-Metabolic Conditions

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Integrated Critical Medicine

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

General Practice

Unit / Centre

Diabetes and Cardio-Metabolic Conditions