Indigenous health and wellbeing program evaluation commissioning models: results from a scoping review
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University of Wollongong, Australia
Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development
Central Queensland University, Australia
University of Canberra, Canada
Charles Darwin University
Flinders University, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1368
Despite significant ongoing investments in Indigenous health and wellbeing programs, evidence regarding program effectiveness is limited. Where these evaluations occur, the quality of this evidence may be impacted by process stages. Yet little is known about the effect of commissioning practices in the Indigenous space. This scoping review aims to codify the spectrum of commissioning practices used in Australia and internationally in the evaluation of Indigenous health and wellbeing programs.

Arksey and O’Malley and Levac et al. guided the review of literature from 2008 -2020 that address the commissioning of Indigenous health or wellbeing program evaluations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Forty-three documents were retrieved from four academic databases and the world wide web and coded against 13 Indigenous research and evaluation better practice principles derived from the literature.

The research shows five models used for commissioning evaluations of Indigenous health and wellbeing programs: a) top-down; b) participatory; c) co-design: delegative and e) Indigenous-led. Models range in the level of engagement with, and decision-making power awarded to, Indigenous communities. Levels which have significant influence on the way the findings are perceived by Indigenous peoples. For instance, models negating Indigenous power produce evaluations lacking in cultural safety and reciprocity.

This scoping review, a first of its kind, provides insight into the spectrum of evaluation commissioning practices and how they align with better practice principles. Whilst, research suggests these better practice principles are often not considered, or their adherence hindered by a lack of institutional support, examples exist of commissioning practice supporting Indigenous engagement and leadership, which hold promise for broader application.

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