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Decolonising qualitative research with respectful, reciprocal, and responsible research practice: A narrative review of the application of Yarning method in qualitative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.

Michelle Kennedy, Raglan Maddox, Kade Booth, Sian Maidment, Catherine Chamberlain, Dawn Bessarab

2022 Australia

Background: Indigenous academics have advocated for the use and validity of Indigenous methodologies and methods to centre Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in research. Yarning is the most reported Indigenous method used in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander qualitative health research. Despite this, there has been no critical analysis of how Yarning methods are applied to research conduct and particularly how they privilege Indigenous peoples.

Objective: To investigate how researchers are applying Yarning method to health research and examine the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers in the Yarning process as reported in health publications.

Design: Narrative review of qualitative studies.

Data sources: Lowitja Institute LitSearch January 2008 to December 2021 to access all literature reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research in the PubMed database. A subset of extracted data was used for this review to focus on qualitative publications that reported using Yarning methods.

Methods: Thematic analysis was conducted using hybrid of inductive and deductive coding. Initial analysis involved independent coding by two authors, with checking by a third member. Once codes were developed and agreed, the remaining publications were coded and checked by a third team member.

Results: Forty-six publications were included for review. Yarning was considered a culturally safe data collection process that privileges Indigenous knowledge systems. Details of the Yarning processes and team positioning were vague. Some publications offered a more comprehensive description of the research team, positioning and demonstrated reflexive practice. Training and experience in both qualitative and Indigenous methods were often not reported. Only 11 publications reported being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander led. Half the publications
reported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander involvement in data collection, and 24 reported involvement in analysis. Details regarding the role and involvement of study reference or advisory groups were limited.

Conclusion: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be at the forefront of Indigenous research. While Yarning method has been identified as a legitimate research method to decolonising research practice, it must be followed and reported accurately. Researcher reflexivity and positioning, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ownership, stewardship and custodianship of data collected were significantly under detailed in the publications included in
our review. Journals and other establishments should review their processes to ensure necessary details are reported in publications and engage Indigenous Editors and peer reviewers to uphold respectful, reciprocal, responsible and ethical research practice.

Qualitative, Aboriginal health, Indigenous methods, Critical review, Yarning method