Aboriginal Recommendations for Substance Use Program Evaluation
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First published in the Aboriginal & Islander Health Worker Journal, May/June 2010, Volume 34, Number 3
Objective: To identify Aboriginal people's key recommendations for evaluating alcohol (and other drug) prevention and intervention program effectiveness. Method: Part of a wider, two-year, Aboriginal-initiated study into the context and Indigenous perceptions of Aboriginal alcohol use prevention and intervention, using a descriptive, grounded theory, participatory action study design. From a demographically comprehensive full study sample of 170 Aboriginal people, a sub-sample of 84 people (identified via purposive, opportunistic and snowball sampling strategies) responded to qualitative, semi-structured interview questions regarding their proposals for intervention program evaluation. These proposals were distilled over time by the study's intervention-model planning group into the evaluation recommendations described here. Results: Participants' evaluation recommendations were in keeping with the capacity-building focus evident in proposals throughout the wider study, including a focus on addressing perceived causes of substance misuse rather than its symptoms. Program-evaluation criteria focused largely on the degree to which people re-engaged withfamily and community-both during and after intervention. Far less focus was placed on the use of alcohol (or other substances). Conclusions and implications: Among the study's remote area Aboriginal participants, recommendations for the evaluation of substance misuse intervention success differed markedly from criteria generally in use, with a key focus being the degree of a person's engagement with family and community. These findings are relevant to understandings and design of culturally meaningful program content and program evaluation.
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