Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence

  Anishinaabe Ik-We Mino-Aie-Win
Aboriginal Women’s Health Issues: A Holistic Perspective on Wellness


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The research and publication of this study were funded by the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE). The PWHCE is financially supported by the Women's Health Contribution Program, Bureau of Women's Health and Gender Analysis, Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the PWHCE or the official policy of Health Canada.

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K. Bent


Aboriginal women suffer the effects of marginalization in every area of their lives. Profound effects have particularly been noted in their health and wellness status. Yet little research has been conducted to unravel the complex array of variables that affect their health and wellness. Research that has been conducted either medicalizes their experiences in a Western fashion, so that little is still known about the actual lived experience of health and wellness for Aboriginal women. This research study sought to answer questions that are important to Aboriginal women's health and wellness because it relates to identifying aspects of health and wellness that are unique to Aboriginal women. In Project I, 125 Aboriginal women completed a 49-item questionnaire designed to assess their health status across four dimensions (i.e., physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), their health and wellness concerns, their access to health care services in the mainstream and in the Aboriginal Community and most importantly their thoughts on what "wellness" means to them. In Project II, the primary focus was on identifying aspects of wellness, health concerns across the same four dimensions, and documenting Aboriginal women's stories about their experiences with the health care system. Ten Aboriginal women who did not complete the survey questionnaire were interviewed and asked questions relating to their health experiences, needs and concerns. The results indicate that Aboriginal women face health problems that are not common to non-Aboriginal women and current health care services do not adequately meet their needs. These results are discussed in terms of acculturation theory. Elder consultation also provided information for the inclusion of traditional knowledge in the analysis. The interview results were analyzed for relevant themes in relation to the survey data, current services and traditional knowledge.

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