Building community involvement in cross-cultural Indigenous health programs

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Abstract

Objectives

To gain preliminary knowledge about issues identified by Native health investigators who would encourage greater community involvement in Indigenous health programs and research in Canada, Pacific Rim, and the United States.

Design

A pilot/feasibility study, August 2001–April 2002.

Setting

Indigenous health agencies and institutions in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Participants

Thirty-six health professionals from rural and urban health centers participated, which resulted in 10 group and four individual interviews. Subjects included program managers, clinical physicians, and health researchers. Approximately 58% of the subjects self-identified as Indigenous.

Results

Three overarching themes emerged from the interview data: (i) integration of cultural values of family and community into health provision; (ii) emphasis on health education and prevention programs for Indigenous youth; and (iii) indigenous recognition and self-determination in health delivery and research.

Conclusions

To improve and promote community involvement in primary health programs and services for Indigenous people involves a long-term social and political commitment to health protection on a national and an international level, as well as the understanding that research methodologies and health interventions must explicitly involve culturally appropriate values and behaviors that are implemented by Indigenous people.

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