Collaborating to develop a survey of methamphetamine users in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
Background: Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter: Aboriginal) communities have raised serious concerns about methamphetamine use and its impact on aboriginal communities. This project seeks to empower communities to reduce methamphetamine use and related harms by developing targeted community-led and clinical interventions. There is limited data available on the use of methamphetamines in Aboriginal communities that may be used to inform such interventions. To address this gap, a survey of current methamphetamine users has been developed to better understand patterns of use, associated behaviours and the social context of use in communities.
Methods: The survey was developed collaboratively with researchers and representatives of the 10 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) who are partners in the project. Steps in survey development were: 1) the research team reviewed relevant tools already in use in research and clinical practice; 2) selected tools were collated into a single survey, and any gaps identified; 3) culturally appropriate tailored questions were developed included in the survey; 4) a draft survey was reviewed by the study investigators group of researchers and site representatives; 5) based on feedback the survey was refined. Finally, the survey was featured in a web-based survey as electronic tablets using the RedCap software for administration by peers in each community.
Results: The survey comprised previously validated tools, a culturally-situated measure of chronic stress and questions tailored to address the project aims.
Conclusion: A high level of consultation and collaboration was undertaken to ensure survey items were relevant and acceptable to the partners in this research. The survey itself, the participatory process undertaken to develop it, and engaging peers to administer the survey via electronic tablets are unique and may be of relevance beyond the NIMAC project.