Past experiences enhance the future. Health care providers gaining expertise in creative thinking, traditional medicine, spirituality, and cultural sensitivity is an essential requirement for 21st century health care. We must stay mindful that poverty, isolation, and rural living may create new forms of social exclusion because of lack of communication and rapidly changing technology. Conversely, sensory overload resulting from a faster paced lifestyle and rapid enhancements in technology may cause increased tension and stress. This article reviews successes that may offer the reader ideas on coping with the provision of health care services in such a volatile changing environment, while honoring tradition and cultural competency.
Given the high rates for substance use among women and men of childbearing age, perinatal and early childhood home-visiting programs serving tribal communities must consider how they will address substance-use problems among the families they support. In this study, we explored the approaches to identifying and addressing family-based substance-use problems that were implemented by nine home-visiting programs serving American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities that are funded through the federal Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (Tribal MIECHV). These programs demonstrated a high awareness of substance-use problems and took concrete action to address them above and beyond that included in the home-visiting model they used. All nine programs reported that they provided substance-use preventive services and screened for substance-use problems. While all programs referred to substance-use treatment programs when needed, in six programs the home visitor provided substance-use services. Through Tribal MIECHV, the intense need for substance-use education, assessment, service delivery, and referral in many AI/AN communities is pushing the home-visiting field forward to address this increasingly critical issue for low-income families across the United States and the world.
American Indian/Alaska Natives have high rates of alcohol-related arrests and are overrepresented in justice systems. To understand the relationship between alcohol dependence, treatment, and alcohol-related incarceration, this study queried American Indian/Alaska Natives currently in remission from alcohol dependence. Participants reported receiving 0 to 43 treatment experiences. Moreover, participants had a significantly greater number of alcohol-related incarcerations than all other treatments combined. These findings underline the importance of making alcohol treatment available within criminal justice settings.
This year's Nobel Prize for chemistry recognizes the seminal contributions of three researchers who discovered the existence and the basic mechanisms of DNA repair: base excision repair, mismatch repair, and nucleotide excision repair. They have since been joined by many scientists elucidating diverse aspects of these complex mechanisms that now constitute a thriving research field with many applications, notably for understanding oncogenesis and devising more effective therapies.
The research that underlies evidence-based practices is often based on relatively homogenous study samples, thus limiting our ability to understand how the study findings apply in new situations as well as our understanding of what might need to be adapted. In a preliminary effort to address those gaps, the requirements for the Tribal Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) included the expectation that grantees design and implement rigorous evaluations to address local priorities and to help build the knowledge base regarding the use of evidence-based home-visiting programs in tribal communities. A priority that emerged across many Tribal MIECHV grantees was to determine the added benefit of the cultural adaptations that they were making to their home-visiting programs. While there is literature to describe recommended processes for making cultural adaptations to evidence-based programs themselves, there are very few guidelines for evaluating these adaptations. In this article, we review the varied evaluation approaches utilized by Tribal MIECHV grantees and provide three case examples of how evaluators and tribal communities worked together to articulate evaluation questions and choose appropriate and feasible evaluation designs. The lessons derived from these Tribal MIECHV evaluation experiences have implications for the role of the evaluator in diverse communities across the country evaluating home visiting and other evidence-based practices in settings characterized by unique cultural contexts.
Associations of behavioral health risks and healthy behaviors with self-reported health-related quality of life measures were investigated in a Northern Plains American Indian sample. Participants were surveyed in person using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. The results showed that regular physical activity was significantly associated with better self-reported overall health, fewer mentally unhealthy and activity limitation days in the past 30 days, and with a greater number of good health days.
The research literature is replete with reports of barriers to care perceived by rural patients seeking healthcare. Less often reported are barriers perceived by the rural healthcare providers themselves. The current study is an extensive survey of over 1,500 healthcare providers randomly selected from two US states with large rural populations, Alaska and New Mexico. Barriers consistently identified across rural and urban regions by all healthcare professionals were Patient Complexity, Resource Limitations, Service Access, Training Constraints, and Patient Avoidance of Care. Findings confirmed that rural areas, however, struggle more with healthcare barriers than urban and small urban areas, especially as related to Resource Limitations, Confidentiality Limitations, Overlapping Roles, Provider Travel, Service Access, and Training Constraints. Almost consistently, the smaller a provider's practice community, the greater the reports of barriers, with the most severe barriers reported in small rural communities.
Incarcerated American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women have multiple physical, social, and emotional concerns, many of which may stem from adverse childhood experiences (ACE). We interviewed 36 AI/AN women incarcerated in the New Mexico prison system to determine the relationship between ACE and adult outcomes. ACE assessment included physical neglect, dysfunctional family (e.g., household members who abused substances, were mentally ill or suicidal, or who were incarcerated), violence witnessed in the home, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. The most prevalent ACE was dysfunctional family (75%), followed by witnessing violence (72%), sexual abuse (53%), physical abuse (42%), and physical neglect (22%). ACE scores were positively associated with arrests for violent offenses, lifetime suicide attempt(s), and intimate partner violence.
The goal of this current descriptive study was to examine the roles and relationships of evaluators with the tribal communities in which they work. First, we describe a participatory community research model with a strong capacity-building component as the standard for assessing successful working partnerships between evaluators, programs, tribes, and tribal organizations. This model serves as a yardstick against which we examine the success and challenges of program-evaluation partnerships. Second, we report on a survey of tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program leaders and outline their impressions of successes and challenges related to program-evaluation partnerships. Survey participants discussed the importance of working with evaluators who have deep investment in and understanding of the tribal community; respect for cultural relevance and honor for cultural ways; collaboration that includes transparency, trust, and translation of research for community leaders and members; a focus on strength-based design without losing the need to consider challenges; and relationships of mutual trust that can weather addressing stressors when issues of conflict, limited resources, and/or mixed expectations arise.