Partnerships for Native Health is collaborating with the University of Washington’s School of Nursing and a tribal community in Montana to improve the lives of Native families. Together, we are testing a strengths-based home visiting program called Promoting First Relationships. This program focuses on meeting young children’s social and emotional needs by addressing the development of children’s attachment to their primary caregiver. We have two goals: to adapt the program to the unique needs of the local community, and to assess its effects on adult caregivers and children between the ages of 10 and 30 months. We are currently in our third year of funding. After a year of recruiting, we have enrolled 47 primary caregivers along with the 47 children for whom they provide care.
AI STOMP (American Indians STOp smoking by Mobile Phone)
Smoking rates in American Indians are high, leading to poor health outcomes. The AI STOMP study uses motivational text messages to help participants quit smoking. Originally intended for tribal college students in Montana, the study has been expanded to include tribal institutions in the Southwest, Midwest, and Southeast. Recently, the study expanded even further to include people who call state tobacco quit lines. The text messaging module used in this study was adapted from a successful intervention used in New Zealand to help Maori youth (among other groups) quit smoking. By using feedback from focus groups at Montana tribal colleges, the text messages were culturally tailored to be more relevant and effective for American Indian smokers.
In 2013, Partnerships for Native Health conducted a needs assessment with community healthcare workers from partner tribes throughout Washington State. Approximately 80% of those interviewed expressed a need for survivorship support and facilitator training for cancer survivors. To address this need, P4NH staff partnered with Dr. Rachel Ceballos from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Ceballos and her team had previously developed and evaluated a Spanish-language support group for Latino cancer survivors living in the lower Yakima Valley of Central Washington. Building upon Dr. Ceballos’s successful work, P4NH staff established a new survivorship curriculum called Staying in the Circle of Life (SITCOL).
Local outreach efforts just achieved a big success in raising awareness of organ donation in Native communities. Although most people waiting for organ transplants belong to racial and ethnic minorities, relatively few organ donors are minorities themselves. This mismatch between supply and demand is particularly acute for Native Americans – because the best organ donor for a Native person is often another Native. LifeCenter Northwest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation, partners with more than 200 hospitals to serve families and communities across Washington, Montana, northern Idaho, and Alaska. » More …
In this work, you are dealing with people’s spirits. You will make other people sick if you aren’t well when you try to do healing work with others.
— Angela Fernandez, UW School of Social Work
American Indians and Alaska Natives are under-represented among professionals in science and healthcare. One approach to increasing the number of Native people in these fields was showcased at a March 2014 conference at the University of Washington (UW): Preparing Our Future Native American Health Leaders. The goal was to encourage and equip Native students for careers in healthcare. Native undergraduate and graduate students from UW, Washington State University, Northwest Indian College, and other local community colleges participated in this three-day event.
The Preparing Our Future Native American Health Leaders conference focused on helping students build practical skills in areas such as time management, preparation for the GRE and MCAT tests, and use of library services. The keynote speaker was Ada Deer, MSW, a Menominee tribal member and activist who oversaw the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1993 to 1997 as Assistant Secretary of the Interior. Before this appointment, she worked tirelessly and successfully on behalf of the Menominee Tribe to win back federal recognition, a status achieved in 1973. Ms. Deer encouraged Native students to “barrel through any barriers” they find themselves up against, including limitations based on gender and cultural heritage.
Partnerships for Native Health is implementing a new alcohol treatment project. We are collaborating with three Native communities in the western United States on one of the largest interventions for alcohol abuse ever conducted with Native people. Our study population consists of 400 American Indian and Alaska Native adults. Our goal is to determine whether a culturally tailored version of a treatment called contingency management, in which people receive rewards for abstaining from alcohol, can reduce alcohol abuse and lead to other positive outcomes.
Native People for Cancer Control is a project of Partnerships for Native Health at the University of Washington. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, its mission is to enhance existing relationships and build new bridges for community-based participatory research, training, and education to improve the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. » More …
Strong Heart Stroke Study – Pilot Expansion for Urban American Indian and Alaska Natives
This pilot study expands on the recently completed Strong Heart Stroke Study, which was the largest, most extensive examination of risk and protective factors for cerebrovascular disease ever conducted with American Indians. The research cohort assembled by the Strong Heart Stroke Study included men and women aged 45-74 years from 13 tribes in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Virtually all participants lived in rural areas. Our new pilot effort will further investigate cerebrovascular risk factors in Native people by conducting a feasibility study in an urban environment. The pilot cohort consists of 60 American Indians and Alaska Natives aged 65 and older who live in the Seattle metropolitan area.
We will use the same neurocognitive assessments as the Strong Heart Stroke Study to explore whether this urban cohort is characterized by distinctive risk or protective factors for cerebrovascular health. Our analyses will address a variety of factors. These might include the availability of acute care in urban settings (which can improve stroke survival) and the accessibility of resources related to lifestyle and health behaviors (which might mitigate or delay age-related cognitive decline). This research is urgently needed, since no studies to date have compared the cerebrovascular and cognitive risk profiles of urban versus rural Native populations.
For the past three years, the Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions at the Northwest Indian College has been holding an annual conference called “Our Food is Our Medicine.” This year, the Suquamish Tribe hosted the conference from September 24th to 26th at the beautiful Kiana Lodge on the shores of the Salish Sea. The event draws people from around Indian Country to discuss and learn more about how American Indians and Alaska Natives are revitalizing traditional food systems in their communities. » More …
For 500 years, Native Americans have suffered drastic and often violent changes in their lives because of European colonization. The effects of this epic disruption have persisted down the generations. One term often used to describe this long-running tragedy is historical trauma. » More …