INTRODUCTION: Surveys of dental health among Aboriginal children in Canada, using scales such as the Decayed, Missing, and Filled Teeth (DMFT) score, indicate that Aboriginal children have 2 to 3 times poorer oral health compared with other populations. A remote First Nations community approached requested assistance in addressing the health of their children. The objective was to work with the community to improve oral health and knowledge among school children. The hypothesis formulated was that after 3 years of the program there would be a significant decrease in dmft/DMFT (primary/permanent) score.METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of all school-aged children in a small, remote First Nations community. Pre- and post- intervention evaluation of oral health was conducted by a dentist not involved in the study. The intervention consisted of a school-based program with daily brush-ins, fluoride application, educational presentations, and a recognition/incentive scheme.RESULTS: Twenty-six children were assessed prior to the intervention, representing 45% of the 58 children then in the community. All 40 children in the community were assessed following the intervention. Prior to the intervention, 8% of children were cavity free. Following 3 years of the intervention, 32% were cavity free. Among the 13 children assessed both pre- and post-intervention, dmft/DMFT score improved significantly (p
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and its precursor, impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), are now reaching epidemic proportions among Aboriginal Canadians. Of particular concern is the appearance and increasing prevalence of T2D and IGT among Aboriginal youth. At the request of three communities in the Tsimshian nation on the northern coast of British Columbia (with which the Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, had a pre-existing partnership) a screening program was undertaken to determine the prevalence of T2D and IGT among the children. The long-term goal was the collaborative development of intervention programs for each community. The challenges of meeting this request included the sociological and ethical issues associated with research in First Nations communities, as well as the pragmatic issues of conducting complex research in remote communities. Three separate visits were undertaken to respect the cultural dynamics and capacity of the community to accommodate a project of this magnitude. The process began with dialogue, listening and presentations to the community. Only then began the planning of logistics and application for funding. Next, the team visited the communities to ensure understanding of exactly what was involved for the community, each child and family, and to be certain that consent was fully informed. For the diabetes screening visit, special arrangements including chartering a Beaver float plane were needed for the transport of the five-member team with all the necessary equipment, including a -20(o)C freezer to safeguard the integrity of blood samples. The 100% consent rate, successful conduct of study, and retention of community support achieved by the process, indicate that population-based clinical research is possible in remote First Nations communities. This is best achieved with appropriate dialogue, care, respect and planning to overcome the sociological, ethical and practical challenges.