Background: The Aboriginal health workforce provide responsive, culturally safe health care. We aimed to co-design a culturally safe course with and for the Aboriginal health workforce. We describe the factors which led to the successful co-design, delivery, and evaluation of the “Managing hepatitis B” course for the Aboriginal health workforce.
Methods: A Participatory Action Research approach was used, involving ongoing consultation to iteratively co-design and then develop course content, materials, and evaluation tools. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research and teaching team received education in chronic hepatitis B and teaching methodologies. Pilot courses were held, in remote communities of the Northern Territory, using two-way learning and teach-back methods to further develop the course and assess acceptability and learnings. Data collection involved focus group discussions, in-class observations, reflective analysis, and use of co-designed and assessed evaluation tools.
Results: Twenty-six participants attended the pilot courses. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander facilitators delivered a high proportion of the course. Evaluations demonstrated high course acceptability, cultural safety, and learnings. Key elements contributing to success and acceptability were acknowledging, respecting, and integrating cultural differences into education, delivering messaging and key concepts through an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lens, using culturally appropriate approaches to learning including storytelling and visual teaching methodologies. Evaluation of culturally safe frameworks and findings from the co-design process led to the creation of a conceptual framework, underpinned by meeting people’s basic needs, and offering a safe and comfortable environment to enable productive learning with attention to the following: sustenance, financial security, cultural obligations, and gender and kinship relationships. Conclusions: Co-designed education for the Aboriginal health workforce must embed principles of cultural safety and meaningful community consultation to enable an increase in knowledge and empowerment. The findings of this research can be used to guide the design of future health education for First Nations health professionals and to other non-dominant cultures. The course model has been successfully transferred to other health issues in the Northern Territory.