The research team set the goal of developing a culturally appropriate tool that enabled a safe space for Aboriginal women to talk. The first part of the tool is modelled on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which Kimberley health services had used previously.
“There were problems with using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale with Aboriginal women,” Julia Marley, who is the Principal Research Fellow at the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia, says. “The language that was being used was not appropriate, so Kimberley health professionals went about designing and developing a new tool with more than 100 Kimberley Aboriginal women.”
The first part of the tool has 10 questions and features images, such as smiling faces and frowns, which women use to indicate their how they feel about the question. “This part of the tool is focused on feelings rather than numbers,” Julia says.
The second part of the KMMS is a psychosocial tool that incorporates key elements identified by Kimberley Aboriginal women.
“The guided questions in Part Two allow clinicians to structure the discussion in a way that women feel safe and enables the score from Part One to be put into context,” Julia says.
As well as being a valuable part of a mental health screening process, the KMMS has had the inadvertent effect of being useful as a social tool.
“We discovered women wanted a safe space where they are able to talk about things that were important to them,” she says. “They wanted to talk not just about the negative, but also about what is working. The nurses were commenting after using the KMMS that they didn’t realise what some of their patients were going through and the information they received would change their health management plans.”
“The process of doing the KMMS with the women has opened up the eyes of clinicians and provided valuable insights into their patients’ lived experiences and social, emotional and cultural wellbeing.”