Development of a Culturally Appropriate Bilingual Electronic App About Hepatitis B for Indigenous Australians: Towards Shared Understandings

Jane Davies, Sarah Bukulatjpi, Suresh Sharma, Luci Caldwell, Vanessa JOHNSTON, Joshua Davis

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    Background: Hepatitis B is endemic in Indigenous communities in Northern Australia; however, there is a lack of culturally appropriate educational tools. Health care workers and educators in this setting have voiced a desire for visual, interactive tools in local languages. Mobile phones are increasingly used and available in remote Indigenous communities. In this context, we identified the need for a tablet-based health education app about hepatitis B, developed in partnership with an Australian remote Indigenous community.

    To develop a culturally appropriate bilingual app about hepatitis B for Indigenous Australians in Arnhem Land using a participatory action research (PAR) framework.

    Methods: This project was a partnership between the Menzies School of Health Research, Miwatj Aboriginal Health Corporation, Royal Darwin Hospital Liver Clinic, and Dreamedia Darwin. We have previously published a qualitative study that identified major knowledge gaps about hepatitis B in this community, and suggested that a tablet-based app would be an appropriate and popular tool to improve this knowledge. The process of developing the app was based on PAR principles, particularly ongoing consultation, evaluation, and discussion with the community throughout each iterative cycle. Stages included development of the storyboard, the translation process (forward translation and backtranslation), prelaunch community review, launch and initial community evaluation, and finally, wider launch and evaluation at a viral hepatitis conference.

    Results: We produced an app called “Hep B Story” for use with iPad, iPhone, Android tablets, and mobile phones or personal computers. The app is culturally appropriate, audiovisual, interactive, and users can choose either English or Yolŋu Matha (the most common language in East Arnhem Land) as their preferred language. The initial evaluation demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in Hep B-related knowledge for 2 of 3 questions (P=.01 and .02, respectively) and overwhelmingly positive opinion regarding acceptability and ease of use (median rating of 5, on a 5-point Likert-type scale when users were asked if they would recommend the app to others).

    Conclusions: We describe the process of development of a bilingual hepatitis B-specific app for Indigenous Australians, using a PAR framework. The approach was found to be successful with positive evaluations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
    Issue number22
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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