Background: In health research, systematic reviews are widely used to guide decision makers towards implementing best practice in policy and healthcare. Systematic reviews that assess and synthesise the best-available evidence on questions relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community priorities can help improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. However, the criteria represented in standard critical-appraisal tools are grounded in Western notions of research quality, and do not incorporate indigenous methodologies or criteria that assess research from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to develop and trial a tool with unique criteria for assessing the quality of research from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective.
Methods: Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers, together with ethicists and systematic review experts, developed a tool and a user guide over a 2-year period, using a combination of literature reviews and interactive group work. A modified Delphi method was used to assess the face validity, reliability and feasibility of the tool. An Australian panel comprising senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers critiqued the tool and made recommendations for improvements. Systematic reviewers then trialled the tool for reliability and feasibility.
Results and Conclusions: The outcome of the study is a tool that aligns with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values and indigenous methodologies that provide critical appraisal of research through an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lens, which can be used in conjunction with existing critical-appraisal tools. The tool will also be useful for promoting credible and ethical primary research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Thus increasing the quality of the health research conducted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, its translation into policy and practice and, ultimately, health outcomes.