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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

The transfer and implementation of an Aboriginal Australian wellbeing program: a grounded theory study

Janya R McCalman

Author Affiliations

The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns 4870, Australia

Implementation Science 2013, 8:129  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-129

Published: 31 October 2013

Abstract

Background

The concepts and standard practices of implementation, largely originating in developed countries, cannot necessarily be simply transferred into diverse cultural contexts. There has been relative inattention in the implementation science literature paid to the implementation of interventions targeting minority Indigenous populations within developed countries. This suggests that the implementation literature may be bypassing population groups within developed countries who suffer some of the greatest disadvantage. Within the context of Aboriginal Australian health improvement, this study considers the impact of political and cultural issues by examining the transfer and implementation of the Family Wellbeing program across 56 places over a 20-year period.

Methods

A theoretical model of program transfer was developed using constructivist-grounded theory methods. Data were generated by conducting in-depth interviews with 18 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal research respondents who had been active in transferring the program. Data were categorised into higher order abstract concepts and the core impetus for and process of program transfer were identified.

Results

Organizations transferred the program by using it as a vehicle for supporting inside-out empowerment. The impetus to support inside-out empowerment referred to support for Aboriginal people's participation, responsibility for and control of their own affairs, and the associated ripple effects to family members, organizations, communities, and ultimately reconciliation with Australian society at large. Program transfer occurred through a multi-levelled process of embracing relatedness which included relatedness with self, others, and structural conditions; all three were necessary at both individual and organizational levels.

Conclusions

Similar to international implementation models, the model of supporting inside-out empowerment by embracing relatedness involved individuals, organizations, and interpersonal and inter-organizational networks. However, the model suggests that for minority Indigenous populations within developed countries, implementation approaches may require greater attention to the empowering nature of the intervention and its implementation, and multiple levels of relatedness by individuals and organizations with self, others, and the structural conditions. Key elements of the theoretical model provide a useful blueprint to inform the transfer of other empowerment programs to minority Indigenous and other disadvantaged populations on a case-by-case basis.

Keywords:
Indigenous; Aboriginal; Program; Transfer; Spread; Implementation; Grounded theory