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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 1/2018

Developing a tablet computer-based application (‘App’) to measure self-reported alcohol consumption in Indigenous Australians

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making > Ausgabe 1/2018
KS Kylie Lee, Scott Wilson, Jimmy Perry, Robin Room, Sarah Callinan, Robert Assan, Noel Hayman, Tanya Chikritzhs, Dennis Gray, Edward Wilkes, Peter Jack, Katherine M. Conigrave
Wichtige Hinweise
The original version of this article was revised: the name of author, Peter Jack, was erroneously typeset in both the PDF and online formats of the manuscript as Peter Jack GradDipIndigH. This inclusion of his qualification as part of his surname was introduced during typesetting, thus the publisher apologises for this error. The original article has also been updated to reflect this correction.
A correction to this article is available online at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12911-018-0604-z.



The challenges of assessing alcohol consumption can be greater in Indigenous communities where there may be culturally distinct approaches to communication, sharing of drinking containers and episodic patterns of drinking. This paper discusses the processes used to develop a tablet computer-based application (‘App’) to collect a detailed assessment of drinking patterns in Indigenous Australians. The key features of the resulting App are described.


An iterative consultation process was used (instead of one-off focus groups), with Indigenous cultural experts and clinical experts. Regular (weekly or more) advice was sought over a 12-month period from Indigenous community leaders and from a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous health professionals and researchers.


The underpinning principles, selected survey items, and key technical features of the App are described. Features include culturally appropriate questioning style and gender-specific voice and images; community-recognised events used as reference points to ‘anchor’ time periods; ‘translation’ to colloquial English and (for audio) to traditional language; interactive visual approaches to estimate quantity of drinking; images of specific brands of alcohol, rather than abstract description of alcohol type (e.g. ‘spirits’); images of make-shift drinking containers; option to estimate consumption based on the individual’s share of what the group drank.


With any survey platform, helping participants to accurately reflect on and report their drinking presents a challenge. The availability of interactive, tablet-based technologies enables potential bridging of differences in culture and lifestyle and enhanced reporting.
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