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Some Costs and Challenges of Conducting Follow-Up Studies of Substance Use in Remote Aboriginal Communities: An Example From the Northern Territory

NCJ Number
Drug and Alcohol Review Volume: 25 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 455-458
Alan R. Clough
Date Published
September 2006
4 pages
This article offers an analysis of the costs and challenges for conducting follow-up interviews about substance use in Indigenous populations in northern Australia.
The analysis indicated that the response rate at follow-up was 78 percent among the participants contacted while the overall response rate in those approached was 64 percent. A total of 50 participants were interviewed at the 3-year follow-up out of the 108 original study participants. The mobility of study participants across the region made follow-up challenging. The costs associated with the study were tracked and are described, including the costs of travel, participant recruitment, locating participants for follow-up, and interviewing. A full 52 percent of the budget was allocated to interview data collection. The loss of half the study participants at follow-up suggests that twice the number of participants should have been recruited to achieve the study targets. The original research design called for 100 people between the ages of 13 to 36 years to be interviewed and then followed-up 3 years later to evaluate changes in their substance use. A stratified random sample of 108 Indigenous individuals was interviewed successfully in 2001. In 2004, researchers attempted to locate these same 108 individuals for follow-up interviews regarding their substance use. Using proxy assessments provided by knowledgeable local Indigenous key informants may be a valid, reliable, and inexpensive way of compiling substance use data on remote or Indigenous populations. Figure, references


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