Research projects

Development of drug misuse first aid guidelines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Principal Researchers

Ms Betty Kitchener a

Professor Anthony Jorm a

Mr Len Kanowskib

Associate Professor Dan Lubman a

Dr Claire Kelly a

Ms Sarah Bourchiera

Ms Laura Harta

Ms Donna Stanleyb


a The Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, The University of Melbourne

b NSW Greater Western Area Health Service



Award Type

Beyond Blue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year


Project brief

This project used the Delphi consensus method to develop guidelines for providing first aid to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons experiencing or developing problem drug use. First aid strategies identified from a systematic literature search were presented as action statements to a panel of experts on Aboriginal mental health. Panellists were employed across the mental health field including psychology, Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS), universities, counselling services, drug and alcohol services and community health services.

Participants rated the action statements as either “essential”, “important”, “don’t know/ depends”, “unimportant” or “should not be included”.

Statements that were rated as either “essential” or “important” by 90 per cent or more of the panel were considered to have been endorsed and were used to draft guideline documents. Two questionnaires about the guidelines were conducted before consensus was reached. The guidelines provide information on culturally appropriate first aid in a way that is accessible to Aboriginal communities across Australia.

Key findings

The research produced three main outcomes:

  • a questionnaire covering how to provide first aid to an Aboriginal person experiencing drug misuse
  • guidelines on how to provide first aid to an Aboriginal person experiencing drug misuse
  • guidelines that were developed in a culturally respectful way that encouraged

Aboriginal communities to have ownership over the research findings and be willing to use the guidelines.


The Mental Health First Aid Program can be found at the MHFA website.

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