Diabetes Bingo! Using Participatory Research to Tackle Diabetes with the Algonquin of Barriere Lake




Aboriginal peoples in Canada are currently facing high rates of chronic and infectious diseases. The incidence of type 2 diabetes among this population has been described as an “epidemic.” To address this growing problem, community health researchers are calling for participatory research initiatives and culturally adapted, communitybased health promotion interventions. Employing a participatory approach with the Algonquin community in Rapid Lake, the purpose of this research project was to design and implement a sustainable, culturally adapted, health promotion intervention for young to middle-aged community members diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and their families, in Rapid Lake, Québec. Over three and a half months, a focused ethnography was conducted using key informant interviews, focus groups, and participant observation. Analysis was an iterative process with input from academic supervisors and a community health representative (CHR). Three themes were identified: (1) Minimadizuin, a holistic concept of health and well-being in Algonquin culture, underlies community members’ understanding of diabetes; (2) local knowledge of diabetes is mediated through experiences with the illness; and (3) community members are eager to learn about diabetes and health-promoting strategies. Outcomes of the research project included the development of an educational activity and a workshop series. Application of participatory research principles, including the integral involvement of the CHR as a research partner, facilitated the development of a sustainable health promotion intervention adapted to the local and cultural context of Rapid Lake.
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