Evaluating the responsiveness and clinical utility of the Australian Therapy Outcome Measure for Indigenous Clients (ATOMIC)

Mr Nicholas Sheahan1, Dr  Rosamund  Harrington, Dr Alison Nelson, Associate Professor Loretta Sheppard

1The Institute For Urban Indigenous Health, Brisbane, Australia

Introduction: Research suggests a current dearth of culturally responsive outcome measures for use with First Australian peoples. Most outcome measurement tools have been developed with participants from Western backgrounds. The Australian Therapy Outcome Measure for Indigenous Clients (ATOMIC) is an outcome measure that has been specifically designed to consider the more holistic views of health held by First Australians. This research aimed to determine the responsiveness and clinical utility of ATOMIC when applied to First Australian adults within an urban context.

Methods: This research was conducted as two studies. Study 1 investigated the responsiveness of ATOMIC to change over time using data gathered from First Australian clients, tracking changes in their goal achievement pre- and post- intervention.  Study 2 investigated the clinical utility of ATOMIC (i) from the perspective of the client to determine whether they understood the purpose of the tool and whether it aligned with their philosophical views on health care; and (ii) from the perspective of the clinicians using the tool

Results: Study 1: Paired t-tests showed a statistically significant increase (p=0.00) in ATOMIC scores pre (mean = 1.8) and post (mean = 8) intervention. Effect size (Cohen d) was calculated as 2.1 and thus also statistically significant. Both calculations indicate ATOMIC is responsive to change. Study 2: Synthesis of interview and focus group data resulted in four overarching themes. These were (i) First Australians are on their own journey and are adept at self-managing their conditions (ii) ATOMIC is a clinically useful outcome measure, that is acceptable to First Australian clients and clinicians, (iii) ATOMIC supports culturally responsive goal-setting, and (iv) ATOMIC supports occupational therapy practice

Conclusion: This research demonstrates ATOMIC is a responsive and clinically useful outcome measure when used with urban First Australian adults.


Nick recently graduated with honours from an occupational therapy degree at the Australian Catholic University. He is passionate about helping others and has a strong interest in First Australian health. Nick is employed as an occupational therapist with The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health and he feels that his role at IUIH allows him to contribute to the health and wellbeing of his clients in a positive and holistic manner. He is passionate about evidence-based practice and hopes to positively contribute to the occupational therapy profession for many years to come

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Recent Comments