Research projects

Development of alcohol misuse first aid guidelines for Indigenous Australians

Principal Researchers

Professor Anthony Jorm, Associate Professor Dan Lubman, Mr Len Kanowski, Ms Laura Hart, Dr Leanne Hides, Ms Kara Eddington


Orygen Youth Health Research Centre



Award Type

beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year


Project brief

The project aimed to develop guidelines to provide culturally appropriate first aid for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing or developing problem drinking.

A systematic literature review identified a number of first aid strategies for problem drinking.  The strategies were presented as statements to a panel of Aboriginal experts in mental health.  Individual panel members rated the statements as “essential”, “important”, “don’t know/depends”, “unimportant” or “should not be included”.  Statements that were rated “essential” or “important” by at least 90 per cent of the panel were used to draft the guidelines.

A statement was included only if it achieved the required rating after three questionnaires.  The process elicited 223 of the original 367 statements.  Statements were then included in a draft document, the final version of which was sent to panel members for endorsement.

Key findings

The project led to the development of a questionnaire and guidelines on how to provide first aid to an Aboriginal person experiencing alcohol misuse.

The guidelines were developed in a culturally respectful way to enable Aboriginal communities ownership over research and increase the likelihood the guidelines would be used.

Only two of the three original aspects of the questionnaire and guidelines – how to help someone who has binged, and how to help someone who has an alcohol use disorder – were included in developed materials.  The third aspect – how to help an adolescent who is starting to use alcohol – was not included, as this topic required specific expertise in youth mental health and should be addressed separately. 

Implications for policy, practice and further research

The guidelines will be distributed on the internet ( and taught in Aboriginal mental health first aid courses across Australia.

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