Open Access Open Badges Research article

Tailoring a response to youth binge drinking in an Aboriginal Australian community: a grounded theory study

Janya McCalman1*, Komla Tsey1, Roxanne Bainbridge1, Anthony Shakeshaft2, Michele Singleton3 and Christopher Doran4

Author Affiliations

1 The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia

2 University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

3 Gindaja Treatment and Healing Centre, Yarrabah, Australia

4 University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:726  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-726

Published: 7 August 2013



While Aboriginal Australian health providers prioritise identification of local community health needs and strategies, they do not always have the opportunity to access or interpret evidence-based literature to inform health improvement innovations. Research partnerships are therefore important when designing or modifying Aboriginal Australian health improvement initiatives and their evaluation. However, there are few models that outline the pragmatic steps by which research partners negotiate to develop, implement and evaluate community-based initiatives. The objective of this paper is to provide a theoretical model of the tailoring of health improvement initiatives by Aboriginal community-based service providers and partner university researchers. It draws from the case of the Beat da Binge community-initiated youth binge drinking harm reduction project in Yarrabah.


A theoretical model was developed using the constructivist grounded theory methods of concurrent sampling, data collection and analysis. Data was obtained from the recordings of reflective Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) processes with Aboriginal community partners and young people, and university researchers. CBPR data was supplemented with interviews with theoretically sampled project participants. The transcripts of CBPR recordings and interviews were imported into NVIVO and coded to identify categories and theoretical constructs. The identified categories were then developed into higher order concepts and the relationships between concepts identified until the central purpose of those involved in the project and the core process that facilitated that purpose were identified.


The tailored alcohol harm reduction project resulted in clarification of the underlying local determinants of binge drinking, and a shift in the project design from a social marketing awareness campaign (based on short-term events) to a more robust advocacy for youth mentoring into education, employment and training. The community-based process undertaken by the research partnership to tailor the design, implementation and evaluation of the project was theorised as a model incorporating four overlapping stages of negotiating knowledges and meanings to tailor a community response.


The theoretical model can be applied in spaces where local Aboriginal and scientific knowledges meet to support the tailored design, implementation and evaluation of other health improvement projects, particularly those that originate from Aboriginal communities themselves.

Indigenous population; Binge drinking; Adolescent; Community-based participatory research; Research design