Facing severe mental health disparities rooted in a complex history of cultural oppression, members of many urban American Indian (AI) communities are reaching out for indigenous traditional healing to augment their use of standard Western mental health services. Because detailed descriptions of approaches for making traditional healing available for urban AI communities do not exist in the literature, this community-based project convened 4 focus groups consisting of 26 members of a midwestern urban AI community to better understand traditional healing practices of interest and how they might be integrated into the mental health and substance abuse treatment services in an Urban Indian Health Organization (UIHO). Qualitative content analysis of focus group transcripts revealed that ceremonial participation, traditional education, culture keepers, and community cohesion were thought to be key components of a successful traditional healing program. Potential incorporation of these components into an urban environment, however, yielded 4 marked tensions: traditional healing protocols versus the realities of impoverished urban living, multitribal representation in traditional healing services versus relational consistency with the culture keepers who would provide them, enthusiasm for traditional healing versus uncertainty about who is trustworthy, and the integrity of traditional healing versus the appeal of alternative medicine. Although these tensions would likely arise in most urban AI clinical contexts, the way in which each is resolved will likely depend on tailored community needs, conditions, and mental health objectives.
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In the field of substance abuse treatment, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities have routinely incorporated ceremonial practices as one important component in the promotion of recovery and healing. The beneficial effects of such practices are frequently described as plainly apparent by community-based advocates, providers, and professionals alike. In the present era of evidence-based substance abuse intervention, however, indigenous integration of such practices raises questions pertaining to the systematic evaluation of treatment efficacy.
The focus of this article is outcome evaluation. Although intervention outcome researchers recognize the randomized controlled trial as the "gold standard" against which claims of treatment efficacy are measured, AI/AN efficacy assertions grounded in indigenous traditional knowledge (ITK) reflect different concerns that have emerged in non-Western historical contexts. The interface between scientific and indigenous "ways of knowing" is explored here relative to efficacy claims about substance abuse treatment.
Distinguishing features of both scientific knowing and ITK are summarized and compared.
ITK has been described as personal and experiential, reflecting the primacy of autonomous individual knowing. In contrast, intervention scientists are skeptical of personal inference as a basis for efficacy evaluation. The evident divergence between these epistemic paradigms can result in potentially contradictory claims.
Proper appraisal of the status and relevance of ITK for determining treatment efficacy requires further exploration of these marginalized approaches to knowledge.
Intervention scientists who work in AI/AN communities should remain open to the legitimacy and role of ITKs in investigations of substance abuse treatment.
To explore the barriers and enablers surrounding the transition from health care to home community settings for Aboriginal clients recovering from acquired brain injuries (ABI) in northwestern Ontario.
Participatory research design using qualitative methods.
Focus groups conducted with clients with ABI, their caregivers and hospital and community health-care workers. The Framework Method of analysis was used to uncover emerging themes.
Six main categories emerged: ABI diagnosis accuracy, acute service delivery and hospital care, transition from hospital to homecare services, transition from hospital to community services, participant suggestions to improve service delivery and transition, and views on traditional healing methods during recovery.
A lack of awareness, education and resources were acknowledged as key challenges to successful transitioning by clients and healthcare providers. Geographical isolation of the communities was highlighted as a barrier to accessibility of services and programmes, but the community was also regarded as an important source of social support. The development of educational and screening tools and needs assessments of remote communities were identified to be strategies that may improve transitions.
Findings demonstrate that the structure of rehabilitation and discharge processes for Aboriginal clients living on reserves or in remote communities are of great concern and warrants further research.