There are an estimated 4.1 million people who are classified as American Indian and Alaska Native alone or in combination with one or more other races. This racial group composes 1.5% of the total U.S. population. The leading causes of illness and death among American Indians are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries (accidents), diabetes, and stroke. American Indians also have a high prevalence of obesity, chronic renal failure, alcoholism, and are at increased risk for mental health issues and suicide. In an effort to build a trusted relationship with these patients and become an active participant in their care, the health care provider must demonstrate respect for the traditions of the American Indian.
Indigenous traditional healing is an ancient, deeply rooted, complex holistic health care system practiced by indigenous people worldwide. However, scant information exists to explain the phenomenon of indigenous medicine and indigenous health. Even less is known about how indigenous healing takes place. The purpose of this study is to describe the meaning and essence of the lived experience of 4 indigenous people who have been diagnosed with cancer and have used indigenous traditional healing during their healing journey. The researcher used a qualitative phenomenological methodology to collect and analyze interview data. Interviews were conducted with 4 self-identified indigenous people, ages 49 to 61, from diverse tribes. Time since cancer diagnosis varied from 2 to 20 years; types of cancer included lung, prostate, sarcoma of the leg, and breast. Four themes and 2 subthemes emerged (1) receiving the cancer diagnosis (with subthemes of knowing something was wrong and hearing something was wrong), (2) seeking healing, (3) connecting to indigenous culture, and (4) contemplating life's future. This study demonstrates that 4 individuals with cancer integrated Western medicine and traditional healing to treat their cancer. This knowledge provides necessary data about the phenomena of being healed by indigenous healers. Such data may serve as an initial guide for health care professionals while interacting with indigenous people diagnosed with cancer. Accordingly, traditional healing may be used to decrease health disparities.
Developing cultural competence is a key requirement for social workers in the multicultural environment of the 21st century. However, the development of social work interventions that are syntonic with specific cultural groups is a great challenge. Interventions that are based on the traditional healing practices of a particular culture ensure cultural relevance and consistency with its values and worldview. This article discusses the importance of culturally based interventions within a cultural competence framework and offers examples of such interventions used with Native Hawaiians. Two interventions are discussed, targeted to the micro (direct practice) level and macro (community practice) level of practice. Culturally based social work interventions may be most appropriate for client systems within a particular culture; however, some methods, such as ho'oponopono, have been successfully used with clients from other cultures as well.
Despite increasing prevalence of asthma among American Indians and/or Alaska Natives, little is known about their use of traditional healing in its management. A convenience sample of 24 Navajo families with asthmatic members (n=35) was interviewed between June 1997 and September 1998. While 46% of families had previously used traditional healing, only 29% sought traditional healing for asthma. Use of traditional healing was unrelated to use of biomedical therapies, hospitalizations, or emergency services. Practical factors and questions about the nature and origins of asthma were the primary considerations determining use of traditional medicine. Little conflict between traditional healing and biomedical treatment was reported. The use of traditional healing for asthma is influenced by beliefs about the disease and factors specific to the individual, including their local social, economic, and cultural context.
Health disparities between Native Americans and the general population of the United States are a major health concern. Traditional healing and culturally competent health care offer much promise in raising the health status of Native Americans. Traditional healing, although uniquely practiced by each indigenous culture, is generally a system of medicine based on the inseparability of mind, body, and spirit. Culturally competent health care, care that is congruent with the culture and language of the patient, is a growing initiative in western medicine. This article outlines Internet sites and online resources relevant to the study and practice of traditional healing and culturally competent health care.
This study described service use among American Indian veterans, compared use patterns across biomedical care and traditional healing options, and tested whether utilization varied as a function of need or availability.
A cross-sectional survey of 621 male combat veterans selected from tribal rolls was conducted between 1992 and 1995 in American Indian reservation communities in the Southwest and in the Northern Plains. Measures included assessments of demographic characteristics, physical and mental health conditions, and self-reports of any use during the past year of Veterans Administration (VA), Indian Health Service (IHS), and other biomedical services as well as participation in traditional ceremonies and use of indigenous healing options.
Tribal groups were similar in sociodemographic characteristics and in number of health problems and mental and substance use problems during the past year. The same types of services from IHS were available to the two groups, and the geographic distance to these services was similar. VA facilities were more readily available in the Northern Plains than in the Southwest, where they were far from reservation boundaries. Use of IHS services was similar for the two tribal groups, but use of VA services was significantly less in the Southwest. Overall, biomedical services were used more in the Northern Plains, reflecting greater use of VA facilities. However, these differences in overall health service disappeared when traditional healing options were considered. Use of traditional healing was greater in the Southwest, offsetting lower biomedical service use.
When the full array of options is examined, service use functions according to need for health care, but the kind of services used varies according to availability.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to learn more about the extent of, and factors related to, the use of traditional and complementary healing modalities among Simi psychiatric patients. STUDY DESIGN: A quantitative survey among psychiatric patients in Finnmark and Nord-Troms, Norway. RESULTS: A total of 186 S?mi and Norwegian patients responded to the survey, a response rate of 48%. Of these, 43 had a strong S?mi cultural affiliation. Use of traditional and complementary treatment modalities was significantly higher within the S?mi group. Factors related to use differed between S?mi and Norwegian groups. S?mi users were found to give greater importance to religion and spirituality in dealing with illness than S?mi patients who had not used these treatments. They were also found to be less satisfied with central aspects of their psychiatric treatment. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found several differences in factors related to the use of traditional and complementary treatments between S?mi and Norwegian psychiatric patient groups. S?mi users were found to give greater importance to religion and spirituality and were less satisfied with the public psychiatric services than S?mi patients who had not used traditional or complementary treatments. The study implies that finding ways to include different aspects of traditional healing within the health services to the S?mi community should be given consideration.
Wet cupping appears to be a living reminiscence of the traditional Finnish healing methods. Fifteen persons practicing or having practiced cupping were interviewed in Savo Province, Eastern Finland. The knowledge and skills of cupping appear to be transferred by personal apprenticeship within a family or from a neighbour. No written material is nowadays available and known to be used in learning. Cupping is considered by healers to be useful in the treatment of aching and pains of teeth, head, neck, shoulders, back and legs. Cuppers report cupping effective also in hypertension and skin diseases. On the other hand, the method is not regarded to be useful in problems of internal organs. Cupping is done after a sauna and bathing of the patient in a warm environment (in sauna). It is often preceded by massage. The small wounds in the cupping sites are made with the aid of a small knife. The healers have the opinion that bad blood must be removed from the superficial areas of the ailing parts of the body, The cupping sites were more or less specific to the ailments of the patient and the number of cups varied from patient to patient depending on the condition and size.
The objective of this study was to describe the use of biomedical services and traditional healing options among a reservation-based sample of American Indians from 2 culturally distinct tribes
Participants were 2595 American Indian adolescents and adults ages 15 to 57 randomly selected to represent 2 tribes living on or near their rural reservations. First, we examined the prevalence and correlates of use of biomedical services and traditional healing for both physical health and psychiatric problems. Second, we developed logistic regression models predicting the independent and combined use of biomedical services and traditional healing
The prevalence of combined and independent use of biomedical services and traditional healing varied by tribe. The prevalence of biomedical service use ranged from 40.9% to 59.1% for physical health problems and 6.4% to 6.8% for psychiatric problems. The prevalence of the use of traditional healing ranged from 8.4% to 22.9% for physical health problems and 3.2% to 7.8% for psychiatric problems. Although combined use of both types of services was common (10.4-22.6% of service users), many used only traditional healing (3.5-40.0%). Correlates of service use included age, educational level, and ethnic identity. For example, use of traditional healing was correlated with higher scores on a scale measuring identification with American Indian culture
Both biomedical services and traditional healing are important sources of care in American Indian communities, and are used both independently and in combination with one another.
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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Traditional indigenous healing is widely used today, as it has been since time immemorial. This article describes the following areas in regards to traditional healing: (a) an explanation of indigenous peoples, (b) a definition of traditional indigenous healing, (c) a portrayal of traditional healers, (d) health within indigenous culture, (e) traditional healing techniques, (f) utilization of traditional healing, (g) how to find a traditional healer, and (h) comparing traditional healing principles with mainstream ways. It is important to have knowledge about this method of holistic healing so health care providers and nurses can integrate it into the health care for individuals and/or families that choose traditional indigenous healing.
Toronto physician Mel Borins, who has travelled extensively to developing countries to examine traditional healing practices, recently visited elders at an Ontario Indian reserve to learn more about native healing practices. He is concerned that much native knowledge about the use of herbs and plants for healing will be lost and steps should be taken to protect it. He is also worried about the possible extinction of useful medicinal plants as civilization encroaches on remote areas.
To ascertain the extent to which family physicians in British Columbia agree with First Nations patients' using traditional Native medicines.
Randomized cross-sectional survey.
Family medicine practices in British Columbia.
A randomized volunteer sample of 79 physicians from the registry of the BC Chapter of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Of 125 physicians contacted, 46 did not reply.
Physicians' demographic variables and attitudes toward patients' use of traditional Native medicines.
Respondents generally accepted the use of traditional Native medicines for health maintenance, palliative care, and the treatment of benign illness. More disagreement was found with its use for serious illnesses, both for outpatients and in hospital, and especially in intensive care. Many physicians had difficulty forming a definition of traditional Native medicine, and were unable to give an opinion on its health risks or benefits. A significant positive correlation appeared between agreement with the use of traditional Native medicines and physicians' current practice serving a large First Nations population, as well as with physicians' knowing more than five patients using traditional medicine.
Cooperation between traditional Native and modern health care systems requires greater awareness of different healing strategies, governmental support, and research to determine views of Native patients and healers.
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The American Indian and Alaska Native population is a culturally diverse population with a current census of 1,959,000. Prior to White contact, there was historically little use of alcoholic beverages except for American Indians in the Southwest. After White contact, use and misuse of alcohol escalated rapidly; however, the prevalence, patterns, and problems of drinking alcoholic beverages vary enormously even in tribes closely linked geographically. American Indians and Alaska Natives have preserved and revitalized a number of traditional healing practices and applied these to the treatment of alcohol-related problems. These healing practices include the following: nativistic movements, sacred dances, sweat lodges, talking circle, four circles, and cultural enhancement programs. Additionally, Western treatment approaches have been applied in the treatment of problems related to alcohol, such as medication for detoxification, disulfiram (Antabuse), Alcoholics Anonymous, and behavioral interventions. Several investigators have completed a small number of naturalistic follow-up studies, but no one has undertaken a randomized controlled trial looking at specific methods of alcohol treatment in American Indians or Alaska Natives. American Indian and Alaska Native communities have adapted and integrated both Traditional and Western approaches to fit their own unique sociocultural needs.
This article examines the nature of Lakota health and healing in its traditional form, how the Lakota both adapted to and resisted western medicine, and the state of contemporary healthcare, traditional and western, on the Pine Ridge Reservation and among the Lakota people of South Dakota.