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How do you improve health care for Indigenous infants?

Feb 27, 2018
Guylaine Spencer

Amy Wright

Above: Amy Wright

Indigenous infants face significantly higher rates of birth complications and mortality rates compared to non-Indigenous infants in Canada. This is due in part to the primary health care services they receive. These health services need to provide better support for Indigenous mothers who are seeking care for their infants, says a new study just published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research.

The lead author of the article is Amy Wright, a PhD student in the McMaster School of Nursing. Wright and her co-authors reviewed and analyzed several studies published to date on the subject. Based on their research, they suggest ways that health providers can help Indigenous mothers use health services for their infants.

“For example, health providers can take a strength-based approach to providing care,” says Wright. “This means health providers first need to understand how the history of Indigenous people in Canada continues to impact the lives of Indigenous people now. They can then help mothers to find their voice, build their self-esteem and pride as mothers, and encourage them to include their cultural and/or traditional health practices in their health care. Health services should be safe places where mothers feel they are not judged and where staff are friendly and approachable. Having Indigenous health providers and Elders in health clinics also helps to create a sense of safety. These approaches help mothers build trusting relationships with their health provider, which leads to positive interactions in future.”

Wright’s research focuses on the health inequities experienced by Indigenous infants and their families in urban areas. She also works as a Nurse Practitioner in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at McMaster Hospital. Her thesis supervisor is Dr. Olive Wahoush, an associate professor in the School of Nursing.

You can find the article, “Selection and Use of Health Services for Infants’ Needs by Indigenous Mothers in Canada: Integrative Literature Review” by A Wright, O Wahoush, M Ballantyne, C Gabel, and SM Jack online at Canadian Journal of Nursing Research.

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