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Aboriginal peoples, health and healing approaches: The effects of age and place on health

TitleAboriginal peoples, health and healing approaches: The effects of age and place on health
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsWilson, K., Rosenberg M. W., Abonyi S., and Lovelace R.
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Pages355 - 364

For demographic reasons and as a result of a number of high profile health incidents in recent years, much of the health research and policy focus is on the younger cohorts of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. A critical examination of recent demographic trends reveals, however, that older cohorts of the Aboriginal population are increasing at a faster rate than younger cohorts, primarily due to improvements in life expectancy and declining fertility rates. Yet, there are surprisingly few health studies that have recognized the aging of the Aboriginal population. The overall goal of this paper is to examine differences in health status, use of conventional health care and traditional approaches to healing between older and younger cohorts of the Aboriginal population as well as to examine the importance of age as a determinant of health and health care use. Using data from the 2001 Statistics Canada Aboriginal Peoples Survey and contingency tables and logistic regression, the results demonstrate that older Aboriginal people face unique challenges - e.g. loss of traditional approaches to healing, geographic isolation, identity politics, constitutional and legal divisions within the Aboriginal community - with respect to their health and access to health services. These outcomes result from a colonial past and contemporary policies that affect all Aboriginal people.