The health of indigenous women recovering from injury from partner violence improves when the healing process brings together circles led by elders and other cultural elements, reveals a new study by the University of British Columbia and Western University.
The study tested the effectiveness of a unique program called “The Return of the Spirit”, which was targeted at nurses working with women individually for six to eight months, as well as weekly circles or group classes under the guidance of a senior. Recent events included the exchange of personal stories and aspects of indigenous culture through ceremonies, cultural teachings and traditional crafts.
The approach was developed in collaboration with elders and indigenous counselors.
“At the end of the program, women reported significantly fewer symptoms of injury and depression and better quality of life compared to what they initially felt,” said lead researcher Collin Varco, a professor of nursing at UBC. "The participants also experienced greater self-esteem and felt greater support from their family and society."
These effects persist at least six months later, Varco added.
The participants were 152 indigenous women from different countries and language groups who lived in Vancouver and Surrey, DC. Most of them experienced child abuse at boarding schools in addition to partner violence; they all lived with incomes well below the average for Canada, and regularly encountered racism and other forms of discrimination.
The study stresses the importance of a holistic healing approach for indigenous people who have experienced intimate partner violence, said study co-author Robert Price, elder from the Coast Salish Snuneikksv and Koichan Nation.
“For these women, treatment can be much more effective if it combines the ways of knowing and being indigenous, such as sharing culture through storytelling, teaching and ceremonies,” said Price.
This program, based on iHEAL, a health promotion program developed by researchers several years ago, is currently being tested in three provinces to determine whether it is effective for women in any environment, including indigenous women.
“Indigenous women in Canada experience a high level of violence, including from their partners, and yet there are few evidence-based interventions designed specifically for them,” said Varco. “We hope that with iHEAL we can make a difference.”
Inclusion of the elderly from the indigenous population in the primary care has a positive effect on the mental health of the patients from the indigenous population
Collin Varco et al. Effectiveness of health promotion measures for indigenous women: restoring our mood, Journal of Interpersonal Violence (2019). DOI: 10.1177 / 0886260518820818
University of British Columbia
Cultural practices improve health care for indigenous women living with violence (2019, January 31)
received January 31, 2019
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