Personal View

Community involvement to maximise research success in Torres Strait Islander populations: more than just ticking the boxes

AUTHORS

name here
Rachel Quigley1
MPhil, Senior Research Officer *

name here
Sarah G Russell2
PhD, Principal Research Officer

name here
Betty Sagigi3
Certificate IV, Health Worker/Aged Care Assessment Team Coordinator

name here
Gavin Miller4
B Med, Senior Medical Officer

name here
Edward Strivens5
MB BS, Clinical Director

AFFILIATIONS

1, 2 College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia; and Cairns & Hinterland Hospital & Health Service, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia

3 Thursday Island Primary Health Care Centre, Thursday Island, Qld 4875, Australia

4 Older Person’s Subacute and Rehabilitation Service, Cairns Hospital, Qld 4870, Australia

5 College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia; and Older Person’s Subacute and Rehabilitation Service, Cairns Hospital, Qld 4870, Australia

ACCEPTED: 6 May 2021

Edward Strivens: Community involvement for research success in Torres Strait Islander populations


early abstract:

Context: Health research is important to effectively address the health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. However, research within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has not always been conducted ethically or with tangible benefits to those involved. Justifiably then, people may be reticent to welcome researchers into their communities. Genuine commitment to community consultation, the fostering of partnerships and collaborative approaches maximise successful outcomes and research translation in these communities.
Issue: Despite guidelines existing to ensure the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are met through any research involving them, non-Indigenous researchers may not be fully aware of the complexities involved in applying these guidelines. This paper explores how a team of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous researchers understood and applied the guidelines during a three-year dementia prevalence study in the Torres Strait. Their reflections on the practicalities involved in conducting ethically sound and culturally appropriate research are discussed.   
Lessons learned: Having a deep understanding of the ethical principles of research with Torres Strait communities is more than just ticking the boxes on ethics approvals. Genuine community involvement is paramount in conducting research with the communities and only then will research be relevant to community needs, culturally appropriate and facilitate the translation of knowledge into practice.