Objective: In health research, systematic reviews are widely used to guide decision makers towards implementing best-practice policy and health care. However, they have been underused as a method for improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. A working group led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers has started to redress this by developing a systematic review appraisal tool that aligns with principles for conducting ethical research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Methods: First, we identified overarching values and principles to guide research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Then we developed over a number of stages a set of key questions that could help determine whether these values and principles had been upheld in practice. We drew on Indigenous research methodologies and existing ethical guidelines.
Lessons learned: Our questions address all phases of the research process and are underpinned by four key principles–ethical research practices, acknowledgement of Indigenous knowledge systems, reciprocity between researchers and communities, and the empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Implications: This appraisal tool will assist those who undertake and review research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to assess the quality, appropriateness and ethical acceptability of research processes and outputs. The tool will also help to ensure that systematic reviews can inform health practice and policy and improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.