Objective: Periodontal disease is associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD), with both conditions being highly prevalent among Australia’s Aboriginal population. This paper reflects on the lessons learned following implementation of a periodontal intervention in the Central Australian region of the Northern Territory among Aboriginal adults with CKD.
Results: Between Oct 2016 and May 2019, research staff recruited 102 eligible participants. This was far below the anticipated recruitment rate. The challenges faced, and lessons learned, were conceptualised into five specific domains. These included: (1) insufficient engagement with the Aboriginal community and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations; (2) an under-appreciation of the existing and competing patient commitments with respect to general health and wellbeing, and medical treatment to enable all study commitments; (3) most study staff employed from outside the region; (4) potential participants not having the required number of teeth; (5) invasive intervention that involved travel to, and time at, a dental clinic. A more feasible research model, which addresses the divergent needs of participants, communities and service partners is required. This type of approach, with sufficient time and resourcing to ensure ongoing engagement, partnership and collaboration in co-design throughout the conduct of research, challenges current models of competitive, national research funding.