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Collaborative community research and change in an aboriginal health system: A case study of participatory education and inquiry for introducing system change in a First Nation in northern Canada

Donald Hugh Castleden, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract

This study describes and analyses a collaborative research process used to initiate inquiry and change in a health system in a First Nation, Aboriginal community in Canada. As background, the author reviews issues in transferring government health programs to local control, describes traditional and government health systems in the Split Lake Cree First Nation community and grounds the rationale for the research approach in the traditions of action research and participatory research.^ The case presentation covers the first year and a half of participatory education and collaborative research activities. Initially it deals with the formation and development of a community research group, with the author serving as co-operating external researcher and training resource. This represents the first instance in Canada of an Aboriginal group doing its own study in preparation for taking over and transforming its health system rather than employing an external consultant to do the study. Specific activities include the preparation of a proposal for funding a study to help with the transfer and the initial design and field work on a study of traditional health practices and resources in the community.^ The account is based on audio recordings and transcriptions of fourteen meetings, each two to three days in length. In the meetings, the efforts, constraints, interactions, training and skill development of the research group as well as its analysis of systems and reflections on its own process are documented. The author intersperses his own observations in italics.^ In conclusion, the author reflects on issues arising out of this innovative experiment and on insights it offers for specific problems in collaborative research. Finally, there are recommendations for the use of such an approach as a means for community empowerment and control over change in local health systems. ^

Subject Area

Adult education|Public health

Recommended Citation

Castleden, Donald Hugh, "Collaborative community research and change in an aboriginal health system: A case study of participatory education and inquiry for introducing system change in a First Nation in northern Canada" (1992). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9233040.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI9233040

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