Culture in Aboriginal Health
Culture shapes health outcomes. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Canada's Aboriginal peoples. Overwhelming evidence shows that the colonization of their lands significantly contributed to their disadvantaged position within Canada. Colonization deprived them of their culture, identity, and pride. This produced the negative health outcomes we see today.
Culture must be considered in the design of health programs and policies aimed at disadvantaged and marginalized peoples such as Aboriginal Canadians. Effective programs and policies demand a better understanding of the role culture plays in health outcomes and how it interacts with the other health-determining conditions like those listed above.
As a Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Health, Dr. Sylvia Abonyi is exploring the role of culture in the health of Aboriginal Canadians. Working in partnership with Aboriginal communities, she is investigating the role of health-determining conditions, including culture, in priority areas such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Results of these community-based studies are being used to design programs and policies that recognize and consider various aspects of culture. The aim is to reduce the number of people who become ill and to help those who are already ill achieve a better quality of life.
Dr. Abonyi collaborates with colleagues across Canada and elsewhere who are working to incorporate cultural perspectives into the design, delivery, and evaluation of health programs and policies. Ultimately, their goal is to improve health outcomes for populations around the world.