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Great expectations: An analysis of researchers' and policy makers' perceptions of the potential value of the Australian indigenous burden of disease study for policy

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The International Journal of Health Planning and Management

Published online on


The “Burden of disease and injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples” was commissioned by the Australian government as part of the Australian Burden of Disease study. This paper explores the extent to which key actors in the research and policy communities expected the Indigenous Burden of Disease study's findings to inform, influence, or drive federal decisions concerning Indigenous health in Australia. This qualitative research undertook interviews with 13 key informants with significant involvement in the Indigenous Burden of Disease study: six researchers, five policy makers, and two knowledge brokers. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed, and the findings were triangulated with a review of the literature. Policy makers and researchers anticipated that the Indigenous Burden of Disease study would improve the available information for policy deliberations about Indigenous health. Beyond that, their expectations about its policy influence differed substantially, with researchers more confident of the study's capacity to guide health priorities, and policy makers situating findings in the context of other critical inputs. Expectations of policy influence are shaped by the disciplinary perspectives of actors, and their relationship to policy outcomes and cannot be examined without also considering the policy, political, and financing context of the study being analyzed.