Developing a tablet computer-based application ('App') to measure self-reported alcohol consumption in Indigenous Australians
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© 2018 The Author(s). Background: The challenges of assessing alcohol consumption can be greater in Indigenous communities where there may be culturally distinct approaches to communication, sharing of drinking containers and episodic patterns of drinking. This paper discusses the processes used to develop a tablet computer-based application ('App') to collect a detailed assessment of drinking patterns in Indigenous Australians. The key features of the resulting App are described. Methods: An iterative consultation process was used (instead of one-off focus groups), with Indigenous cultural experts and clinical experts. Regular (weekly or more) advice was sought over a 12-month period from Indigenous community leaders and from a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health professionals and researchers. Results: The underpinning principles, selected survey items, and key technical features of the App are described. Features include culturally appropriate questioning style and gender-specific voice and images; community-recognised events used as reference points to 'anchor' time periods; 'translation' to colloquial English and (for audio) to traditional language; interactive visual approaches to estimate quantity of drinking; images of specific brands of alcohol, rather than abstract description of alcohol type (e.g. 'spirits'); images of make-shift drinking containers; option to estimate consumption based on the individual's share of what the group drank. Conclusions: With any survey platform, helping participants to accurately reflect on and report their drinking presents a challenge. The availability of interactive, tablet-based technologies enables potential bridging of differences in culture and lifestyle and enhanced reporting.
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