Despite a growing body of critical scholarship in nursing, the concept of culture continues to be applied in ways that diminish the significance of power relations and structural constraints on health and health care. In this paper, we take a critical look at how assumptions and ideas underpinning conceptualizations of culture and cultural sensitivity can influence nurses' perceptions of Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal health. Drawing on examples from our research, we examine how popularized assumptions about culture can shape nurses' views of Aboriginal patients. These assumptions and perceptions require closer scrutiny because of their potential to influence nurses' practice with Aboriginal patients. Our specific aims are to: (a) consider some of the limitations of cultural sensitivity in relation to health care involving Aboriginal peoples; (b) explore how ideas about culture have the potential to become problematic in nursing practice with Aboriginal peoples; and (c) explore the relevance of a 'critical cultural approach' in extending our understanding of culture in relation to Aboriginal peoples' health. We discuss a critical cultural perspective as one way of broadening nurses' understandings about the complexities of culture and the many facets of culture that require critical consideration. In relation to Aboriginal health, this will require nurses to develop greater critical awareness of culture as a relational process, and as necessarily influenced by issues of racism, colonialism, historical circumstances, and the current political climate in which we live.
I am writing this quest editorial for this 'Indigenous health' issue of Australian Family Physician because i have reached an important goal - one that many times i thought i would not achieve. I would like to share my story with others, particularly my Aboriginal brothers and sisters, so that they may be encouraged to keep doing and to reach their goals too.
Circumpolar regions, and the nations within which they reside, have recently gained international attention because of shared and pressing public policy issues such as climate change, resource development, endangered wildlife and sovereignty disputes. In a call for national and circumpolar action on shared areas of concern, the Arctic states health ministers recently met and signed a declaration that identified shared priorities for international cooperation. Among the areas for collaboration raised, the declaration highlighted the importance of enhancing intercultural understanding, promoting culturally appropriate health care delivery and strengthening circumpolar collaboration in culturally appropriate health care delivery. This paper responds to the opportunity for further study to fully understand indigenous values and contexts, and presents these as they may apply to a framework that will support international comparisons and systems improvements within circumpolar regions. We explored the value base of indigenous peoples and provide considerations on how these values might interface with national values, health systems values and value bases between indigenous nations particularly in the context of health system policy-making that is inevitably shared between indigenous communities and jurisdictional or federal governments. Through a mixed methods nominal consensus process, nine values were identified and described: humanity, cultural responsiveness, teaching, nourishment, community voice, kinship, respect, holism and empowerment.
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