Health Practitioners’ Perspectives on the Barriers to Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetes in Aboriginal People on Vancouver Island





The prevalence of diabetes mellitus among Aboriginal populations in Canada represents a health crisis. Researchers and Aboriginal patients have identified barriers to prompt diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in Aboriginal communities. These barriers include poverty, co-morbidities, cultural indifference, and lack of healthcare resources. This study discusses the barriers to care of Aboriginal people with diabetes from the perspective of healthcare providers on Vancouver Island. Nonstandardized surveys containing multiple-choice and open-ended questions were distributed to 33 healthcare providers on Vancouver Island who reported working with Aboriginal people with diabetes; 18 completed surveys were returned. Descriptive statistics were prepared for the multiple-choice section of the questionnaire. Open-ended questions were coded and organized into substantive categories to identify trends. Barriers identified by participants include access to transportation, educational material, traditional care and medicine, and diagnostic services. Suggestions for possible solutions to barriers were grouped into three categories: education, overcoming systemic barriers, and cultural relevance. While some specific barriers were emphasized by participants, the general trends were similar to those perceived by Aboriginal patients and researchers as reported in the literature. The postulated solutions emphasize regional disparity in healthcare resources and the need to respect Aboriginal worldviews in western medical practice.

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