- Staff and faculty with Partnerships for Native Health (P4NH) recently attended the annual Winter Powwow sponsored by the American Indian Student Commission at the University of Washington. P4NH staff set up a table to distribute literature on Native health concerns, posters featuring Native art, bean soup recipes, and packets of beans. We also distributed 100 surveys on community health concerns. All survey participants were American Indians and Alaska Natives, and all surveys were completed long before the powwow finished. We’re extremely grateful for this response, because survey results guide our research programs. Many participants engaged us in conversation, emphasizing the importance of being able to report their community needs to health investigators. They also appreciated our community-specific literature. Some P4NH staff were new to the Pacific Northwest, but they felt very much at home at this traditional powwow, and they enjoyed mingling with people from so many different tribes. Although the Winter Powwow did not feature contests among dancers, attendees spontaneously contributed prize money to reward the dancer wearing the most exciting Seahawks gear. We didn’t get his picture, but we did manage to photograph a few other Seahawks fans. We look forward to seeing and talking with you at future events!
- We’ve had a productive year at Partnerships for Native Health! All our work depends on active partnerships and collaborations with Native communities – so here’s a big shout out, and an even bigger thank you, to the 6.6 million (and counting!) Native American people across the U.S. With more than a dozen research projects under way, we note just a few highlights: A household-based intervention (FITSMI) to reduce the risk of stroke, delivered to hundreds of Native families in Arizona, Oklahoma, and South Dakota; a dietary intervention at urban sites in Washington and Oklahoma to improve consumption of healthy foods and reduce cardiovascular disease; a national intervention to help Native people quit smoking (AI-STOMP), delivered entirely by text messages; and a home visiting program to improve rates of kidney transplants in Native people. During the past year, we were also funded to conduct a new series of major studies under the umbrella designation of Native-Controlling Hypertension and Risk Through Technology. This work will occupy us for at least the next 5 years. Meanwhile, P4NH researchers have been active in reporting the results of past research, collaborating on 27 scientific articles on Native health published in 2016. We wish everyone a very healthy and happy new year! (Photo: Tribal encampment at Standing Rock, ND)
- The Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) has been promoting medical education among American Indians and Alaska Natives for the past half-century. In August, a staff member with Partnerships for Native Health, Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt (Oglala Lakota), presented a poster on our research at the Association’s 45th annual conference in Oakland, California. The poster described the Family Intervention in the Spirit of Motivational Interviewing (FITSMI). Ms. Montileaux Mabbutt was lead author, and Lonnie Nelson, Tauqeer Ali, and Dedra Buchwald were co-authors. Their contribution was awarded first prize in the poster competition. Its topic was a good fit for this year’s conference, which honored traditional healing as well as biomedical disciplines and emphasized the entire spectrum of care in urban and rural settings. FITSMI is a household-based intervention, now in the third of five project years. It uses a traditional talking circle to encourage and support American Indian family members who take steps to reduce their risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. The photo shows Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt with Polly Olsen (Yakama), Executive Director of AAIP.
- The 45th annual Spring Powwow just took place on Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24, at the University of Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena. Native visitors attended from across the country, and Partnerships for Native Health was there to host a table and conduct community outreach. We loved listening to the unique hand drummers and watching the dancers in their gorgeous regalia. We offered handouts on colon cancer screening, hypertension control, and organ donation. We also distributed our popular bean bags, which include a healthy soup recipe with the essential ingredients. We invited everyone who visited our table to complete a brief survey. It took the form of a community health needs assessment, with some items on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Everyone who completed the survey received $10. Throughout the powwow we received lots of positive feedback, and many people thanked us for the work we do. We felt honored to be part of such a great event, where we met new friends, listened to their stories about achieving good health, and experienced massive amounts of gratitude. Many people asked us which events we would be attending in the future. We’re excited to say that we’ll be at the Seafair Powwow in Seattle on July 15-17, 2016. We hope to see you there!
- Members of Partnerships for Native Health recently attended the 28th annual Daybreak Star Powwow, also known as the Seafair Indian Days Powwow. Held in Seattle’s Discovery Park from July 17 to July 19, this three-day festival celebrated Native American and Indigenous culture. It featured traditional drummers and dancers in gorgeous regalia, along with lots of Native food and art. Partnerships for Native Health set up a table to promote healthy lifestyles and disseminate pamphlets, posters, and children’s books. All these materials included disease prevention information, such as messages on breast cancer, colon cancer, and high blood pressure. We also handed out bags of beans with a soup recipe so that powwow enthusiasts could make healthy soup at home, and we administered a health needs survey. In an effort to launch a new social trend, we hosted a photo booth with the tagline #2BHealthy. Participants, particularly children and youth, enjoyed getting dressed up and holding posters with the tagline. We heard a lot of positive feedback on our work to improve the health and wellbeing of Native people. We were honored by the personal stories that powwow participants shared with us, as well as their expressions of gratitude.
Anna Zamora-Kapoor, PhD, a researcher with Partnerships for Native Health, recently reported a link between breastfeeding and body weight later in life among Native people. In an article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, she demonstrated that longer periods of breastfeeding in infancy are associated with lower body mass index (BMI) among American Indian and Alaska Native adolescents and young adults.
“The more breastfeeding, the better,” says Dr. Zamora-Kapoor. “Babies who breastfeed longer are more likely to avoid excess weight gain in adolescence and beyond. This is important for Native families, because Native youth have the highest rates of obesity among young people of all races. Obesity is associated with many health problems that are prevalent in Native communities, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
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Native people face many barriers to medical care. Some are widely recognized, such as a lack of individual health insurance, or an absence of accessible, high-quality healthcare services. But other barriers are less obvious, as researchers with Partnerships for Native Health recently discovered.
For a study entitled “Culturally Adapted Strategies to Enhance Kidney Donation in Native Communities,” community health educators have been visiting Native patients on kidney dialysis to provide education and facilitation around the process of kidney transplantation. This study involves patients in urban and rural areas of two western states. Notably, Native people have high rates of chronic kidney disease and kidney dialysis, but low rates of kidney transplants. As our community educators have learned, several unforeseen barriers contribute to these low rates. All involve health system factors, and all might seem relatively simple or mundane – unless you happen to be a Native patient waiting for a new kidney.
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We conduct community-centered research, training, education, and outreach to improve the health and quality of life of American Indian and Alaska Native populations.
Partnerships for Native Health (P4NH) is a program housed within the Initiative for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH) at Washington State University. Formalized in 2009, it emerged from two decades of work with Native communities. Over time, the program has developed a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to achieve our mission of improving the health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native people of all ages. We have done so by incorporating these core principles: engagement and participation with our community partners; education, training, and capacity-building for Native people and communities; infrastructure development; technical assistance; research on healthcare and other community needs; and widespread sharing of our results in ways that recognize and respect the unique cultural contexts of American Indian and Alaska Native people.
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.
If you happened to stop by our offices this summer, chances are you would find staff from Native People for Cancer Control filling bags with our very special bean soup mix. Each bag is stuffed with five different kinds of beans and a small card with a soup recipe. Also on the card is information explaining how eating beans can reduce your risk of cancer. Our bean soup mix is intended to launch conversations at community events, where we often set up tables for health education.