Improving Access to Health Care Services for Aboriginal Peoples

This research originates from a community workshop funded by the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health New Frontiers Program. In this community workshop, participants identified access to appropriate health services as a major concern for Aboriginals residing in urban, rural and inner city communities. A steering committee representative of Capital Health, M?tis Nation of Alberta, M?tis Settlements General Council and the surrounding Treaty areas, was formed to develop this community request into the access to health care services research initiative. We have completed three exploratory studies to investigate access to health care from the viewpoints of all three populations: urban, inner city and rural. A significant finding from these studies is the need to further develop culturally comprehensive care to respond to the access needs of Aboriginal people. This includes improving the relation between Aboriginal individuals and health professionals, and the incorporation of traditional medicine and liaison workers into mainstream services. The research team and participants are focusing now on the sustainability of the project which involves creating an intercultural space where teaching, learning and knowledge exchange regarding access to health care services and the development of respectful treatment partnerships from the perspectives of those affected and those who form the health care system can take place.

The objectives of the coming year will be to disseminate and further investigate the elements that constitute appropriate access to health care services from both perspectives; to explore potential avenues to develop and enhance the formation of treatment partnerships with Aboriginal individuals and health care professionals; to envision a flexible structure to ensure better access to health care services for Aboriginal individuals; and to conceptualize in partnership with Aboriginal communities future research directions in the area of health services utilization that promotes capacity building in Aboriginal peoples and health care professionals. The research plan will include comprehensive workshops to disseminate findings of exploratory projects, enhancing the research team, conducting a series of teaching encounters and focus groups with health care professionals and Aboriginal people to examine treatment partnerships, and to create a foundation within the health care system for health liaison workers to facilitate the provision of culturally competent care. The findings and process will also be shared at national conferences in the coming year.

Active since 2002