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Original Research

Reaching agreement for an Aboriginal e-health research agenda: the Aboriginal telehealth knowledge circle consensus method

Submitted: 27 August 2009
Revised: 18 November 2009
Published: 27 January 2010

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Author(s) : Maar MA, Seymour A, Sanderson B, Boesch L.

Marion MaarAnn SeymourBrenda SandersonLisa Boesch

Citation: Maar MA, Seymour A, Sanderson B, Boesch L.  Reaching agreement for an Aboriginal e-health research agenda: the Aboriginal telehealth knowledge circle consensus method. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2010; 10: 1299. Available: (Accessed 17 October 2017)


Introduction: In Canada, telehealth has been successfully implemented in a number of Aboriginal communities with subsequent improvements to access to health care and quality of life. However, there are many knowledge gaps that limit our understanding of the broad range of Aboriginal e-health issues; a research agenda is urgently required. The objective of this research was to develop an Aboriginal e-health research agenda designed to address the substantial knowledge gaps that impede e-health deployment and adoption particularly in rural and remote Aboriginal communities in Canada. A consensus method based on Aboriginal culture, values and approaches to consensus was developed to achieve this.
Methods: In this consensus methodology, a core group of Aboriginal telehealth leaders, led by a research facilitator, engaged in an iterative process of individual and group review of research data. The reviewed data included stakeholder interview data, questionnaires, literature and other resources and was prioritized in order to develop recommendations for an Aboriginal e-health research agenda.
Results: A total of 40 stakeholders including Aboriginal Telehealth Knowledge Circle (ATKC) members, communities of practice and regional, provincial and federal leaders and policy-makers participated in the consensus process. The research recommendations showed a high degree of consistency among stakeholders. Participants reached consensus on 6 areas: research ethics, internet-based e-health services data, educational resources, sustainability models, best practices and exploration of innovative applications.
Conclusions: An ATKC consensus process was successfully applied to reach consensus on an Aboriginal e-health research agenda, demonstrating the potential of Indigenous research approaches for defining levels of agreement on complex topics. The resulting conceptual map for e-health research can be used as a springboard for partnership-based research initiatives involving Aboriginal communities, governments and researchers, and may be of interest to Indigenous e-health researchers at an international level.

Key words: Aboriginal people, Aboriginal research ethics, Canada, consensus methods, e-health, Indigenous research methods, research agenda, telehealth.

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