To compare the current state of health research on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth in Canada.
A search of published academic literature on Canadian Aboriginal youth health, including a comprehensive review of both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal youth research, was conducted using MEDLINE and summarized.
A MEDLINE search was conducted for articles published over a 10-year period (2000-2010). The search was limited to research articles pertaining to Canadian youth, using various synonyms for "Canada," "youth," and "Aboriginal." Each article was coded according to 4 broad categories: Aboriginal identity, geographic location, research topic (health determinants, health status, health care), and the 12 key determinants of health proposed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
Of the 117 articles reviewed, only 34 pertained to Aboriginal youth, while the remaining 83 pertained to non-Aboriginal youth. The results revealed major discrepancies within the current body of research with respect to the geographic representation of Aboriginal youth, with several provinces missing from the literature, including the northern territories. Furthermore, the current research is not reflective of the demographic composition of Aboriginal youth, with an under-representation of Métis and urban Aboriginal youth. Health status of Aboriginal youth has received the most attention, appearing in 79% of the studies reviewed compared with 57% of the non-Aboriginal studies. The number of studies that focus on health determinants and health care is comparable for both groups, with the former accounting for 62 and 64% and the latter comprising 26 and 19% of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal studies, respectively. However, this review reveals several differences with respect to specific focus on health determinants between the two populations. In non-Aboriginal youth studies, all the 12 key determinants of health of PHAC are explored, whereas in Aboriginal youth studies the health profile remains incomplete and several key determinants and health indicators are neglected.
The current studies are not reflective of the demographic and geographic profiles of Aboriginal youth in Canada, and they have also failed to provide a comprehensive examination of their unique health needs and concerns compared with studies on non-Aboriginal youth.
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