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  • Publication
    Journal Article
    Supporting healthy lifestyles for First Nations women and communities through co-design: lessons and early findings from remote Northern Australia.
    (2024-05-28)
    Dias, Tara
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    Canuto, Karla
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    Boyle, Jacqueline A
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    D'Antoine, Heather
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    Hampton, Denella
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    Martin, Kim
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    Phillips, Jessica
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    Bartlett, Norlisha
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    Mcintyre, H David
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    Graham, Sian
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    ; ;
    McCarthy, Leisa
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    Kirkham, Renae
    ;
    The period before, during, and after pregnancy presents an opportunity to reduce diabetes-related risks, which in Australia disproportionately impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women/communities is essential to ensure acceptability and sustainability of lifestyle modifications. Using a novel co-design approach, we aimed to identify shared priorities and potential lifestyle strategies. We also reflected on learnings from this approach.We conducted 11 workshops and 8 interviews at two sites in Australia's Northern Territory (Central Australia and Top End), using experience-based co-design (EBCD) and incorporating principles of First Nations participatory research. Workshops/interviews explored participant' experiences and understanding of diabetes in pregnancy, contextual issues, and potential lifestyle strategies. Participants included three groups: 1) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of reproductive age (defined as aged 16-45 years); 2) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members; and 3) health/community services professionals. The study methodology sought to amplify the voices of Aboriginal women.Participants included 23 women between ages 16-45 years (9 with known lived experience of diabetes in pregnancy), 5 community members and 23 health professionals. Key findings related to identified priority issues, strategies to address priorities, and reflections on use of EBCD methodology. Priorities were largely consistent across study regions: access to healthy foods and physical activity; connection to traditional practices and culture; communication regarding diabetes and related risks; and the difficulty for women of prioritising their health among competing priorities. Strategies included implementation of a holistic women's program in Central Australia, while Top End participants expressed the desire to improve nutrition, peer support and community awareness of diabetes. EBCD provided a useful structure to explore participants' experiences and collectively determine priorities, while allowing for modifications to ensure co-design methods were contextually appropriate. Challenges included the resource-intensive nature of stakeholder engagement, and collaborating effectively with services and communities when researchers were "outsiders".A hybrid methodology using EBCD and First Nations participatory research principles enabled collaboration between Aboriginal women, communities and health services to identify shared priorities and solutions to reduce diabetes-related health risks. Genuine co-design processes support self-determination and enhance acceptability and sustainability of health strategies.