Background: The high burden of chronic kidney disease in First Nations peoples requires urgent attention. Empowering people to self-manage their own condition is key, along with promotion of traditional knowledge and empowerment of First Nations communities. This study explores the potential of a culturally responsive tool, already found to have high acceptability and feasibility among First Nations people, to support self-management for First Nations people with kidney failure. The Stay Strong app is a holistic wellbeing intervention. This study explores the suitability of the Stay Strong app to support self-management as shown by the readiness of participants to engage in goal setting. Data were collected during a clinical trial which followed adaption of research tools and procedures through collaboration between content and language experts, and community members with lived experience of kidney failure.
Methods: First Nations (i.e., Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) participants receiving haemodialysis in the Northern Territory (n = 156) entered a three-arm, waitlist, single-blind randomised controlled trial which provided collaborative goal setting using the Stay Strong app at baseline or at 3 months. Qualitative data gathered during delivery of the intervention were examined using both content and thematic analysis.
Results: Almost all participants (147, 94%) received a Stay Strong session: of these, 135 (92%) attended at least two sessions, and 83 (56%) set more than one wellbeing goal. Using a deductive approach to manifest content, 13 categories of goals were identified. The three most common were to: ‘connect with family or other people’, ‘go bush/be outdoors’ and ‘go home/be on country’. Analysis of latent content identified three themes throughout the goals: ‘social and emotional wellbeing’, ‘physical health’ and ‘cultural connection’.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence of the suitability of the Stay Strong app for use as a chronic condition self-management tool. Participants set goals that addressed physical as well as social and emotional wellbeing needs, prioritising family, country, and cultural identity. The intervention aligns directly with self-management approaches that are holistic and prioritise individual empowerment. Implementation of self-management strategies into routine care remains a key challenge and further research is needed to establish drivers of success.