The quantity, quality and characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian mentoring literature: a systematic review

Bainbridge, Roxanne, Tsey, Komla, McCalman, Janya, and Towle, Simon (2014) The quantity, quality and characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian mentoring literature: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 14.

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Abstract

Background: Mentoring is a key predictor of empowerment and prospectively a game changer in the quest to improve health inequities. This systematic review reports on the state of evidence on mentoring for Indigenous Australians by identifying the quantity, nature, quality and characteristics of mentoring publications.

Methods: Thirteen databases were searched using specific search strings from 1983 - 2012. Grey literature was also canvassed. The resultant publications were mined to identify their outputs, nature, and quality. These were then conceptually mined for their characteristics to develop a model of mentoring that included the initiating environments, facilitating environments, operational strategies and outcomes.

Results: 771 citations were identified; 37 full text publications met inclusion criteria and were assessed. Fifteen were eligible for review. Four of five original research publications used strong qualitative research designs. No publications were found before 1999; the largest proportion concentrated in 2011 (n = 4). Facilitating environments included: mapping participants' socio-cultural and economic context; formal mentoring practices with internal flexibility; voluntary participation; integrated models with wrap-around services; mentor/staff competencies; and sustained funding. Mentoring strategies comprised: holistic scaffolding approaches; respectful, trusting, one-on-one mentoring relationships; knowledgeable mentors; regular contact; longer-term relationships and exit strategies; culturally-tailored programs; personal and social development opportunities; and specialised skills and learning opportunities. Outcomes varied in accordance to program aims and included improvements in aspects of education and employment, offending behaviours, relationships, and personal, social and professional development.

Conclusion: Little research explored the effectiveness of mentoring, captured its impact qualitatively or quantitatively, developed appropriate measures or assessed its cost-effectiveness. There is a real need to evaluate programs particularly in terms of outcomes and, given there were no economic evaluations, costs. Commitments to improving Indigenous Australian mentoring rely on changes to funding structures and attitudes toward research. There was insufficient evidence to confidently prescribe a best practice model. Sufficient frequency of qualitative reporting between publications concluded that mentoring is a valuable empowerment strategy in the areas of health and wellbeing, education and employment and as a remedial and preventative measure in reducing offending behaviours. An evidence-informed mentoring model would take into account the key findings of the review.

Item ID: 36943
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, evidence, Indigenous Australians, mentoring, social determinants of health, systematic review
Additional Information:

Copyright © 2014 Bainbridge et al.; licensee BioMed Central.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

ISSN: 1471-2458
Funders: Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2015 04:47
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920303 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Health System Performance (incl. Effectiveness of Interventions) @ 30%
92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 70%
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