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Open Access Building trust and sharing power for co-creation in Aboriginal health research: a stakeholder interview study

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Historically, Aboriginal health research in Australia has been non-participatory, misrepresentative, and has produced few measurable improvements to community health. The Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH) was established to co-create and co-translate research. Over the past decade, SEARCH has built a sustainable partnership across policy, research, clinical and Aboriginal community sectors which has resulted in improvements in Aboriginal health through enhanced services, policies and programmes.
Aims and objectives

This study describes the critical success factors behind SEARCH, focusing on how SEARCH was established, and continues to build trusting co-creative relationships. It also explores some continuing challenges and considers how the partnership might be strengthened.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 stakeholders, purposively selected to obtain maximum diversity of roles and perspectives. Interview questions explored concepts that informed the development of SEARCH such as trust, transparency, leadership, governance, reciprocity and empowerment. Data was analysed thematically and written up using the qualitative description approach.
Findings and discussion

Nine critical success factors were identified: shared power; strong credible leadership; shared vision, shared goals; willingness to take risks; connecting across cultures; empowering the community; valuing local Aboriginal knowledge; ongoing investment and collaboration; and adaptability. While each of these factors has areas for ongoing improvement, this case example demonstrates that co-creation and co-translation of research in Aboriginal health is achievable and, indeed, necessary to improve health outcomes.

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Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research; co-creation; participatory research; public health research

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Sydney and The University of Sydney Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School, Australia 2: University of Sydney, Australia 3: The Sax Institute, Australia 4: University of Melbourne, Australia 5: The Sax Institute and University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: August 2019

This article was made available online on August 19, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Building trust and sharing power for co-creation in Aboriginal health research: a stakeholder interview study".

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