Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Students Learn about Natural Health Products from Different Information Sources


Natural health products (NHPs) include naturally derived botanical and nonbotanical products. Past research indicates a high prevalence of NHPs use amongst adults in the United States and Canada but does not clearly characterize NHPs use amongst students, ethnic variations of such use, or how users learn about NHPs. We hypothesize that there is a difference between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in how they learn about NHPs. To investigate this question, we conducted a cross-sectional study at First Nations University of Canada and the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, during the fall of 2011. Aboriginal (n=214) and non-Aboriginal (n=749) students participated in the 28 question survey. Our results indicate that Aboriginal students who use NHPs are found in all age groups, are mostly female, are smokers and nonsmokers, and learn about NHPs from Elders and healers. Compared to nonAboriginal students, Aboriginal students rely significantly less on alternative and conventional health providers, electronic media, print media, and advertising as their sources of information about NHPs. Thus, Aboriginal students use Elders or healers as a primary source of information to learn about NHPs, as compared to non-Aboriginal students. Future work should investigate the role of Elder traditional educators to convey NHPs information directed specifically to Aboriginal university students.

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