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1.  Aboriginal health research in the remote Kimberley: an exploration of perceptions, attitudes and concerns of stakeholders 
Background
For decades Indigenous peoples have argued for health research reform claiming methods used and results obtained often reflect the exploitative history of colonisation. In 2006 the Kimberley Aboriginal Health Planning Forum (KAHPF) Research Subcommittee (hereafter, the Subcommittee) was formed to improve research processes in the remote Kimberley region of north Western Australia. This paper explores the major perceptions, attitudes and concerns of stakeholders in the Subcommittee.
Methods
Qualitative analysis was carried out on data retrospectively collected from multiple evidentiary sources linked to the Subcommittee i.e. database, documents, interviews, review forms and emails from 1 January 2007 to 31 October 2013.
Results
From 1 January 2007 to 30 June 2013 the Subcommittee received 95 proposals, 57 (60%) driven by researchers based outside the region. Local stakeholders (22 from 12 different Kimberley organisations) raised concerns about 36 (38%) projects, 30 (83%) of which were driven by external researchers. Major concerns of local stakeholders were inadequate community consultation and engagement; burden of research on the region; negative impact of research practices; lack of demonstrable community benefit; and power and control of research. Major themes identified by external stakeholders (25 external researchers who completed the review form) were unanticipated difficulties with consultation processes; barriers to travel; perceiving research as a competing priority for health services and time-consuming ethics processes. External stakeholders also identified strategies for improving research practices in the Kimberley: importance of community support in building good relationships; employing local people; flexibility in research approaches; and importance of allocating sufficient time for consultation and data collection.
Conclusions
Health research in the Kimberley has improved in recent years, however significant problems remain. Prioritising research addressing genuine local needs is essential in closing the gap in Indigenous life expectancy. The long-term aim is for local health service connected researchers to identify priorities, lead, conduct and participate in the majority of local health research. For this to occur, a more radical move involving reconceptualising the research process is needed. Changes to institutional timeframes and funding processes could improve Indigenous and community-based research.
doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0517-1
PMCID: PMC4213490  PMID: 25343849
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research; Ethics; Kimberley Aboriginal Health Planning Forum Research Subcommittee; Community consultation; Research processes; Decolonising research
2.  Quality improvement in practice: improving diabetes care and patient outcomes in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services 
Background
Management of chronic disease, including diabetes, is a central focus of most Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in Australia. We have previously demonstrated that diabetes monitoring and outcomes can be improved and maintained over a 10-year period at Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS). While continuous quality improvement (CQI) has been shown to improve service delivery rates and clinical outcome measures, the process of interpreting audit results and developing strategies for improvement is less well described. This paper describes the evaluation of care of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and features of effective CQI in ACCHSs in the remote Kimberley region of north Western Australia.
Methods
Retrospective audit of records for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary care patients aged ≥15 years with a confirmed diagnosis of T2DM at four Kimberley ACCHSs from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. Interviews with health service staff and focus group discussions with patients post audit. Main outcome measures: diabetes care related activities, clinical outcome measures and factors influencing good diabetes related care and effective CQI.
Results
A total of 348 patients from the four ACCHSs were included in the study. Clinical care activities were generally high across three of the four health services (at least 71% of patients had cholesterol recorded, 89% blood pressure, 84% HbA1c). Patients from DAHS had lower median cholesterol levels (4.4 mmol/L) and the highest proportion of patients meeting clinical targets for HbA1c (31% v 16% ACCHS-3; P = 0.02). Features that facilitated good care included clearly defined staff roles for diabetes management, support and involvement of Aboriginal Health Workers, efficient recall systems, and well-coordinated allied health services. Effective CQI features included seamless and timely data collection, local ownership of the process, openness to admitting deficiencies and willingness to embrace change.
Conclusions
Well-designed health care delivery and CQI systems, with a strong sense of ownership over diabetes management led to increased service delivery rates and improved clinical outcome measures in ACCHSs. Locally run CQI processes may be more responsive to individual health services and more sustainable than externally driven systems.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-481
PMCID: PMC4282197  PMID: 25288282
Indigenous; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Diabetes; Quality improvement cycles; Primary health care
3.  Clinical trials in a remote Aboriginal setting: lessons from the BOABS smoking cessation study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:579.
Background
There is limited evidence regarding the best approaches to helping Indigenous Australians to stop smoking. The composite analysis of the only two smoking cessation randomised controlled trials (RCTs) investigating this suggests that one-on-one extra support delivered by and provided to Indigenous Australians in a primary health care setting appears to be more effective than usual care in encouraging smoking cessation. This paper describes the lessons learnt from one of these studies, the Be Our Ally Beat Smoking (BOABS) Study, and how to develop and implement an integrated smoking cessation program.
Methods
Qualitative study using data collected from multiple documentary sources related to the BOABS Study. As the project neared completion the research team participated in four workshops to review and conduct thematic analyses of these documents.
Results
Challenges we encountered during the relatively complex BOABS Study included recruiting sufficient number of participants; managing the project in two distant locations and ensuring high quality work across both sites; providing appropriate training and support to Aboriginal researchers; significant staff absences, staff shortages and high workforce turnover; determining where and how the project fitted in the clinics and consequent siloing of the Aboriginal researchers relating to the requirements of RCTs; resistance to change, and maintaining organisational commitment and priority for the project. The results of this study also demonstrated the importance of local Aboriginal ownership, commitment, participation and control. This included knowledge of local communities, the flexibility to adapt interventions to local settings and circumstances, and taking sufficient time to allow this to occur.
Conclusions
The keys to the success of the BOABS Study were local development, ownership and participation, worker professional development and support, and operating within a framework of cultural safety. There were difficulties associated with the BOABS Study being an RCT, and many of these are shared with stand-alone programs. Interventions targeted at particular health problems are best integrated with usual primary health care. Research to investigate complex interventions in Indigenous health should not be limited to randomised clinical trials and funding needs to reflect the additional, but necessary, cost of providing for local control of planning and implementation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-579
PMCID: PMC4064520  PMID: 24912949
Indigenous; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Smoking cessation; Be Our Ally Beat Smoking (BOABS) study; Qualitative; Randomised controlled trial
4.  The Be Our Ally Beat Smoking (BOABS) study, a randomised controlled trial of an intensive smoking cessation intervention in a remote aboriginal Australian health care setting 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:32.
Background
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (Indigenous Australians) smoke at much higher rates than non-Indigenous people and smoking is an important contributor to increased disease, hospital admissions and deaths in Indigenous Australian populations. Smoking cessation programs in Australia have not had the same impact on Indigenous smokers as on non-Indigenous smokers. This paper describes the outcome of a study that aimed to test the efficacy of a locally-tailored, intensive, multidimensional smoking cessation program.
Methods
A randomised controlled trial of Aboriginal researcher delivered tailored smoking cessation counselling during face-to-face visits, aiming for weekly for the first four weeks, monthly to six months and two monthly to 12 months. The control (“usual care”) group received routine care relating to smoking cessation at their local primary health care service. Data collection occurred at enrolment, six and 12 months. The primary outcome was self-reported smoking cessation with urinary cotinine confirmation at final follow-up (median 13 (interquartile range 12–15) months after enrolment).
Results
Participants in the intervention (n = 55) and usual care (n = 108) groups were similar in baseline characteristics, except the intervention group was slightly older. At final follow-up the smoking cessation rate for participants assigned to the intervention group (n = 6; 11%), while not statistically significant, was double that of usual care (n = 5; 5%; p = 0.131). A meta-analysis of these findings and a similarly underpowered but comparable study of pregnant Indigenous Australian women showed that Indigenous Australian participants assigned to the intervention groups were 2.4 times (95% CI, 1.01-5.5) as likely to quit as participants assigned to usual care.
Conclusions
Culturally appropriate, multi-dimensional Indigenous quit smoking programs can be successfully implemented in remote primary health care. Intensive one-on-one interventions with substantial involvement from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers are likely to be effective in these settings.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12608000604303).
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-32
PMCID: PMC3905726  PMID: 24418597
Indigenous; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Randomised controlled trial; Smoking cessation; Be Our Ally Beat Smoking (BOABS) Study
5.  The protocol for the Be Our Ally Beat Smoking (BOABS) study, a randomised controlled trial of an intensive smoking cessation intervention in a remote Aboriginal Australian health care setting 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:232.
Background
Australian Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders (Indigenous Australians) smoke at much higher rates than non-Indigenous people and smoking is an important contributor to increased disease, hospital admissions and deaths in Indigenous Australian populations. Smoking cessation programs in Australia have not had the same impact on Indigenous smokers as on non-Indigenous smokers. This paper describes the protocol for a study that aims to test the efficacy of a locally-tailored, intensive, multidimensional smoking cessation program.
Methods/Design
This study is a parallel, randomised, controlled trial. Participants are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers aged 16 years and over, who are randomly allocated to a 'control' or 'intervention' group in a 2:1 ratio. Those assigned to the 'intervention' group receive smoking cessation counselling at face-to-face visits, weekly for the first four weeks, monthly to six months and two monthly to 12 months. They are also encouraged to attend a monthly smoking cessation support group. The 'control' group receive 'usual care' (i.e. they do not receive the smoking cessation program). Aboriginal researchers deliver the intervention, the goal of which is to help Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders quit smoking. Data collection occurs at baseline (when they enrol) and at six and 12 months after enrolling. The primary outcome is self-reported smoking cessation with urinary cotinine confirmation at 12 months.
Discussion
Stopping smoking has been described as the single most important individual change Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smokers could make to improve their health. Smoking cessation programs are a major priority in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and evidence for effective approaches is essential for policy development and resourcing. A range of strategies have been used to encourage Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders to quit smoking however there have been few good quality studies that show what approaches work best. More evidence of strategies that could work more widely in Indigenous primary health care settings is needed if effective policy is to be developed and implemented. Our project will make an important contribution in this area.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12608000604303)
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-232
PMCID: PMC3349500  PMID: 22439653
Indigenous; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Randomised controlled trial; Smoking cessation; Study protocol; Be Our Ally Beat Smoking (BOABS) Study
6.  Peritoneal dialysis outcomes of Indigenous Australian patients of remote Kimberley origin 
Objectives
To compare clinical outcomes and mortality rates between Kimberley Indigenous, other Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian patients on peritoneal dialysis (PD).
Design and participants
Patients commencing renal replacement therapy (RRT) with PD for the first time from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2009 were retrospectively identified. Secondary data from medical records and the Australian and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2010 were used to compare outcomes between patients.
Main outcome measures
Time to first peritonitis; failure and death rates per 100 patient-years, hazard ratios, unadjusted and adjusted (for age, sex, comorbid conditions, PD not the first RRT modality used). Comparison of the two PD systems used in the Kimberley.
Results
Kimberley patients had significantly shorter median time to first peritonitis (11.2 versus 21.5 months), higher technique failure (46.0 versus 25.2 per 100 patient-years) and shorter median survival on PD (17.5 versus 22.4 months) but similar adjusted mortality (hazard ratio 1.32; 95% CI, 0.76-2.29) as non-Indigenous patients. They also had a significantly higher technique failure rate than other Indigenous patients (46.0 versus 31.4 per 100 patient-years) and nearly double the average peritonitis episodes previously reported for Indigenous Australians (2.0 versus 1.15 per patient-year).
Conclusions
PD can bring patients closer to home; however, it is relatively short term and potentially hazardous. PD remains an important therapy for suitable remote patients to get closer to home, providing they are fully informed of the options. The current expansion of safer Kimberley haemodialysis options needs to continue.
doi:10.1111/ajr.12086
PMCID: PMC4140604  PMID: 25039843
Aboriginal; Indigenous; mortality rate; peritoneal dialysis; peritonitis; Torres Strait Islander

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