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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Voices of Native American women: Perceptions of health

Geradine Simkins, CNM, MSN and Elizabeth Kushman, MPH. Health Services Division, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, 2956 Ashmun St, Sault Saint Marie, MI 49783, 231-228-5857, gera@speedconnect.com

There are very few health indicators to reflect the major health concerns of Native American women. There are even fewer sources of information on Native women's own perceptions of health. It is critical to better understand women's perceptions in order to design and implement effective healthcare interventions and programs and ameliorate disparities.

From data available on American Indian women, statistics reveal higher death rates due to heart disease and cancers, higher rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes, and the highest lifetime rates of rape and physical abuse among all racial groups in the country. But statistics expose only one aspect. Women's own stories and life experiences reveal much more. In focus groups, called Talking Circles, sponsored by the Anishnabe Women's Health Project, we learned that Native women, in addition to possessing numerous strengths and assets, are burdened with chronic diseases, experience family and social stresses, and engage in risk behaviors, all of which compromise their health. The Talking Circles revealed how Native women view their own health status, their concerns for the health of women in their communities, the toll that high rates of chronic disease has taken on families and communities, what motivates individuals to take better care of themselves, and what things they see women in their community doing to improve their health. In addition, the Talking Circles illuminated important health system deficiencies that impact individuals and communities, as well as ideas for designing and ensuring culturally competent healthcare interventions to meet the needs of Native American women.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Native and Indigenous Populations, Women's Health

Related Web page: www.itcmi.org

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

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