Barriers and enablers to the provision of alcohol treatment among Aboriginal Australians: A thematic review of five research projects

Authors


  • Dennis Gray MPH, PhD, Professor and Deputy Director, Mandy Wilson PhD, Research Fellow, Steve Allsop PhD, Professor and Director, Sherry Saggers PhD, Adjunct Professor, Edward Wilkes AOBA, Associate Professor, Coralie Ober RN, DipTchg, GradDip SocSci, AsscDipComWelf, Research Fellow.

Abstract

Introduction and Aims

To review the results of five research projects commissioned to enhance alcohol treatment among Aboriginal Australians, and to highlight arising from them.

Design and Methods

Drafts of the papers were workshopped by project representatives, final papers reviewed and results summarised. Lessons arising were identified and described.

Results

While the impact of the projects varied, they highlight the feasibility of adapting mainstream interventions in Aboriginal Australian contexts. Outcomes include greater potential to: screen for those at risk; increase community awareness; build capacity and partnerships between organisations; and co-ordinate comprehensive referral networks and service provision.

Discussion

Results show a small investment can produce sustainable change and positive outcomes. However, to optimise and maintain investment, cultural difference needs to be recognised in both planning and delivery of alcohol interventions; resources and funding must be responsive to and realistic about the capacities of organisations; partnerships need to be formed voluntarily based on respect, equality and trust; and practices and procedures within organisations need to be formalised.

Conclusions

There is no simple way to reduce alcohol-related harm in Aboriginal communities. However, the papers reviewed show that with Aboriginal control, modest investment and respectful collaboration, service enhancements and improved outcomes can be achieved. Mainstream interventions need to be adapted to Aboriginal settings, not simply transferred. The lessons outlined provide important reflections for future research. [Gray D, Wilson M, Allsop S, Saggers S, Wilkes E, Ober C. Barriers and enablers to the provision of alcohol treatment among Aboriginal Australians: A thematic review of five research projects. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014;33:482-490]

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