Child abuse and neglect is of growing concern in many American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The present paper represents one attempt to add to the existing, albeit sparse, knowledge base concerning the abuse and neglect of American Indian children. It reports the results of a survey of federal human service providers in which the subject of child abuse and neglect in Indian communities figured prominently. The study took place at several locations in Arizona and New Mexico. Data were obtained using the key-informant method from 55 federal service providers who identified 1,155 children, from birth to 21 years for inclusion in the survey. Children were included if they were currently in mental health treatment, if they were in need of mental health treatment, or if they were known to have been abused or neglected. Particular emphasis was given in the data collection to abuse- and neglect-related factors such as living arrangements, familial disruption, psychiatric symptoms, substance abuse, and school adjustment. The patterns evident in this sample closely resemble those trends identified among abused and/or neglected children in the general population. Sixty-seven percent of the sample was described as neglected or abused. The presence of abuse and/or neglect was strongly related to severe levels of chaos in the family. Children who were described as both abused and neglected had more psychiatric symptoms, greater frequency of having run away or been expelled, and greater frequency of drug use.
American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have disproportionately high rates of substance abuse yet there is little empirical research addressing this significant public health problem. This paper is an introduction to a special issue that includes cutting edge science in this research area. We identify several areas that require consideration in this field and indicate how the papers in the special issue address these gaps. These overarching areas of need, which should be considered in any substantive research, include attention to heterogeneity within the population, research that has tangible health benefits, continued work on research methods and strategies, increased focus on strength based and community oriented approaches, and the need for strong research partnerships. The special issue marks a major step forward for AI/AN substance abuse research. However, articles also highlight where more work is need to improve public health in AI/AN communities by addressing identified gap areas.
The Ahalaya case management model was designed to provide culturally sensitive services to HIV-positive American Indians (AI), Alaska Natives (AN), and Native Hawaiians (NH). This program started in 1991 and expanded across the country in 1994. The evaluation plan included a client satisfaction survey, along with focus groups and key informant interviews. Of the 389 active clients enrolled, 132 responded to the anonymous 35-item questionnaire. Responses were favorable regarding benefits of the programs. Self-reported quality of life changes after enrollment also were significantly improved (Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test: T=6.87, p=.000; n=131). Qualitative data highlighted other important issues. Social relationships-with staff, community, and family-were critical to client welfare, as a source of both strength and fear. While AI/AN/NH case management programs have been shown effective, services need to expand, and they have to facilitate resolutions to problems in clients social relationships.
To assess the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), we examined acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) case and seroprevalence data through December 1990. While AI/AN had a low 1990 reported AIDS case rate (4.0/100,000), the increase in diagnosed cases adjusted for reporting delays from 1989 to 1990 was higher (23.1%) among AI/AN than any other racial/ethnic group. Seroprevalence data for military applicants have documented higher rates for AI/AN than for either Whites or Asian/Pacific Islanders.
Five-year average annual age-adjusted cancer incidence rates for Alaska Natives (Eskimos, Indians, and Aleuts) for the most recent period (1989-1993) are compared to rates of 20 years earlier. Rates for all cancers combined increased 28 and 25% in men and women, respectively, during the 25-year interval. Increases were seen in men in cancers of the lung, prostate, and colon and in women for cancers of the lung, breast, and corpus uteri. Rates are also compared to data from the the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program for United States whites. Rates for all cancers combined in Alaska Native women are now similar to those of United States whites, whereas rates in Alaska Native men are lower than the United States, but only 10% lower. Significant site-specific differences previously reported between Alaska Natives and United States whites persist.
OBJECTIVES: This study compares mortality patterns for the Alaska Native population and the U.S. white population for 1989-1998 and examines trends for the 20-year period 1979-1998. METHODS: The authors used death certificate data and Indian Health Service population estimates to calculate mortality rates for the Alaska Native population, age-adjusted to the U.S. 1940 standard million. Data on population and mortality for U.S. whites, aggregated by 10-year age groups and by gender, were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics, and U.S. white mortality rates were age-adjusted to the U.S. 1940 standard million. RESULTS: Overall, 1989-1998 Alaska Native mortality rates were 60% higher than those for the U.S. white population for the same period. There were significant disparities for eight of 10 leading causes of death, particularly unintentional injury, suicide, and homicide/legal intervention. Although declines in injury rates can be documented for the period 1979-1998, large disparities still exist. Alaska Native death rates for cancer, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes increased from 1979 to 1998. Given decreases in some cause-specific mortality rates in the U.S. white population, increased rates among Alaska Natives have resulted in new disparities. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that improvements in injury mortality rates are offset by marked increases in chronic disease deaths.
Excessive alcohol consumption is a leading preventable cause of death in the United States and has substantial public health impact on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. To estimate the average annual number of alcohol-attributable deaths (AADs) and years of potential life lost (YPLLs) among AI/ANs in the United States, CDC analyzed 2001-2005 data (the most recent data available), using death certificate data and CDC Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) software. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicated that AADs accounted for 11.7% of all AI/AN deaths, that the age-adjusted AAD rate for AI/ANs was approximately twice that of the U.S. general population, and that AI/ANs lose 6.4 more years of potential life per AAD compared with persons in the U.S. general population (36.3 versus 29.9 years). These findings underscore the importance of implementing effective population-based interventions to prevent excessive alcohol consumption and to reduce alcohol-attributable morbidity and mortality among AI/ANs.
Michael Landen and Jim Roeber are with the Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health, Santa Fe. Tim Naimi is with the Section of Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center, MA. Larry Nielsen is with the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, Silver Spring, MD. Mack Sewell is with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, Cheyenne.
We describe the relative burden of alcohol-attributable death among American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) in the United States.
National Death Index records were linked with Indian Health Service (IHS) registration records to identify AI/AN deaths misclassified as non-AI/AN. We calculated age-adjusted alcohol-attributable death rates from 1999 to 2009 for AI/AN and White persons by sex, age, geographic region, and leading causes; individuals of Hispanic origin were excluded.
AI/AN persons had a substantially higher rate of alcohol-attributable death than Whites from 2005 to 2009 in IHS Contract Health Service Delivery Area counties (rate ratio = 3.3). The Northern Plains had the highest rate of AI/AN deaths (123.8/100,000), and the East had the lowest (48.9/100,000). For acute causes, the largest relative risks for AI/AN persons compared with Whites were for hypothermia (14.2) and alcohol poisoning (7.6). For chronic causes, the largest relative risks were for alcoholic psychosis (5.0) and alcoholic liver disease (4.9).
Proven strategies that reduce alcohol consumption and make the environment safer for excessive drinkers should be further implemented in AI/AN communities.