Building community involvement in cross-cultural Indigenous health programs

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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.


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


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


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.


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.


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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