Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Engage-Exchange-Change: Strengthening Indigenous health research engagement, action, translation and impact (#435)

Alister Thorpe 1
  1. The University of Melbourne, University Of Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Indigenous research principles are well established123456 yet it is difficult to measure how, if, and to what extent principles are complied with. It is hypothesised that supporting the development of research that is actively informed and guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ethics, engagement and translation principles is more likely to lead to research impact and benefit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. This PhD proposal aims to develop a research instrument to compare and/or measure the impact of implementing engagement, ethics and translation principles in past (and current) Indigenous health research projects.

It is widely accepted that to be effective Indigenous research must involve Indigenous people in the planning, development and dissemination of research. Engagement principles have also been established between governments, universities and Indigenous communities but implementation of engagement mechanisms and the subsequent impact on research outcomes in Indigenous research projects are rarely measured. A range of facilitators to Indigenous involvement in health research have been identified 7 including production and promotion of existing community controlled research, promotion of ethics, opportunities to discuss research, the meaning of research, evaluation, increased support and capacity development, community endorsement, ideas coming from community, culturally appropriate forms of research, Indigenous people working alongside researchers–mutual capacity building.

Knowledge translation and exchange is also understood to be a critical part of the research process. A significant amount of Indigenous health research fails to inform public health policy, programs and practice. Many research projects and programs have had beneficial outcomes yet these outcomes are rarely evaluated, or are poorly measured. And despite demonstrating effectiveness many programs cease to be funded. Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and evidence regarding use of research in policy and practice suggest that research is failing to have the impact that it promises on social, economic and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

How then can we increase opportunities for researchers (and communities engaged in research) to influence funders and decision-makers to utilise research to inform health policy and practice?

  1. National Health and Medical Research Council (2003) Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, National Health and Medical Research Council , Australia
  2. National Health and Medical Research Council (2005) Keeping Research On Track: A Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People About Health Research Ethics, National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia
  3. National Health and Medical Research Council (2015) Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria, retrieved from:
  4. Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (2012) Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies Second Edition, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra
  5. A. Laycock with D. Walker, N. Harrison & J. Brands (2011) Researching Indigenous Health: a practical guide for researchers, The Lowitja Institute, Melbourne
  6. Lisa M Jamieson, Yin C Paradies, Sandra Eades, Alwin Chong, Louise Maple-Brown, Peter Morris, Ross Bailie, Alan Cass, Kaye Roberts-Thomson and Alex Brown (2012) Ten principles relevant to health research among Indigenous Australian populations, Medical Journal of Australia; 197 (1): 16-18
  7. Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit (2008) We Can Like Research… in Koori Hands: A Community Report on Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit’s Research Workshops in 2007, Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne