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Listening to the stories of American Indians at Oregon State Hospital

20 July 2012


The purpose of this study was to investigate the subjective experience of American Indian psychiatric patients in order to better understand their unique challenges and strengths in that setting, in addition to find information for professionals to use when providing services to American Indian psychiatric patients. More specifically, the purpose of interviewing eight American Indian patients using a semi-structured interview was to learn about their experiences living at Oregon State Hospital (OSH), including their treatment, their culture prior to coming to the OSH, and their recommendations for change. The interviews were analyzed using a community-based, participatory, phenomenological qualitative method. The responses were divided into six categories, represented in the four directions of a medicine wheel, regarding the American Indian way of life. Substance and alcohol use paired with violent behavior preceded many of the participants’ hospitalization. Participants consistently identified American Indian cultural interventions, ceremonies, and cultural activities as the most beneficial aspect of their psychiatric hospitalization. The results both supported and added to findings reported in previous research. The participants listed food, cultural interventions, staff interactions and racism as some of the areas for future change at OSH.


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