Conducting research in the remote Central Australian context can be challenging, costly and time-consuming. Careful consideration of the factors that can impact on study recruitment is important in all phases of the study, from planning through to completion. Failing to do this may result in insufficient recruitment of participants, incurring additional costs, and being unable to complete the project on schedule. This presentation aims to reflect on some of the challenges that arose during the validation of a developmental screening tool for remote Australian Aboriginal children–the ASQ-TRAK–from the perspectives of the Aboriginal Research Officers.
The ASQ-TRAK study aimed to recruit 140 Central Australian Aboriginal Children aged 2, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 and 48 months in collaboration with a local Aboriginal Community Controlled Primary Health Service. Parents/caregivers were required to attend with their child to two appointments within a one-week period. Eligibility criteria were determined by Aboriginality, age, and living within the town boundaries. Eligible children were identified through client records, which resulted in 504 children being identified as eligible throughout the 8-month duration of the study. The parents/caregivers of 238 children were successfully contacted and 194 consented to participate. About half of those who consented (106) attended their first appointment, and 87 completed all required appointments. This is a recruitment rate of 62% of the target number.
This presentation will explore some of the challenges we as the Aboriginal Researchers Officers faced when recruiting participants for the study and our suggestions to overcome these. We will discuss the process that was used to locate eligible families, to discuss the project and obtain informed consent, and to promote attendance once informed consent was obtained, and our thoughts on how these may be improved. We hope that our experiences will be valuable for others who are considering conducting research in the Central Australian Aboriginal context.