Prioritizing Aboriginal voices through qualitative health research: an Australian model for focus group research

Tuesday, 2 July 2019
Joanna Mason

This paper presents findings from the Re-focus study, an in-depth, qualitative study of group based research in Aboriginal health services contexts. The ARC funded study (2015-2018) aimed to: 1) explore multiple perspectives of group research 2) listen to Indigenous voices and 3) host a Knowledge Exchange Workshop to develop practical and culturally effective guidelines and resources for focus group research.

This study was conducted in three stages. Using purposive and snowball recruitment it engaged participants from diverse groups. Interviews were conducted with: 8 Indigenous and 26 non-Indigenous researchers; 21 Australian and state government policy makers and policy officers of Indigenous peak health organizations; 13 Aboriginal workers from 5 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services; and 2 FGDs with Indigenous community participants. 

Using thematic and framework analysis, this study has generated insight into the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of FGD research and procedures, the role of Indigenous participants and the value of qualitative evidence for health policy decision making. It provides guidance on how to re-direct the benefits of research to Indigenous communities, and explores how qualitative research is used as input for government planning and delivery of health services and programs to ensure that health resources are targeted appropriately and equitably distributed.