April 9, 2017 – Staff with Partnerships for Native Health had a great time at the Spring Powwow hosted by First Nations at the University of Washington. In addition to distributing health surveys, we also took photos, which you can see after the jump.
American Indians are more likely to suffer a stroke than members of any other racial or ethnic group in the US. They also tend to have strokes earlier in life than non-Hispanic Whites. In fact, American Indians younger than 65 are three times more likely to die of stroke than Whites of similar age. Given these statistics, an ongoing study by researchers with Partnerships for Native Health seeks to define the risk factors for stroke in American Indians.
So far, this research has resulted in two scientific publications in Neuroepidemiology. Both are led by Dr. Astrid Suchy-Dicey, an Assistant Research Professor at Washington State University. More publications will follow in the near future. Once all analyses are complete, the next step will be to design interventions that can reduce or eliminate disparities in stroke for Native people.
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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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Members of our staff recently enjoyed three rewarding and productive weeks at the Summer Research Training Institute in Portland, Oregon. Housed at the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, funded by the National Institutes of Health, and co-sponsored by the Center for Healthy Communities at the Oregon Health & Science University, the Summer Institute features an intensive three-week curriculum designed for professionals working in American Indian and Alaska Native health. This year it ran from June 13 to July 1.
Within the curriculum are more than a dozen week-long courses on a rich array of topics, including epidemiology, biostatistics, indigenous ways of knowing, community-based participatory research, ethical issues in research with human participants, survey design and management, program planning and evaluation, grant management, cancer prevention, and digital storytelling. For Lindsey Montileaux Mabbutt, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and a research coordinator at our center, the digital storytelling course was one of the program’s highlights. The video she made for the course – “You Have What It Takes” – is available on YouTube at this link.