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Knowledge traditions and their perceived effectiveness by medical providers

1 January 2015


Traditional healing methods are an important part of the culture and health of many American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals. In the US, there has been a push to incorporate culturally-competent methods of treatment within Western medical practice and to refer out for these services if the patient is interested in them. Given the current health disparity that AI/AN individual’s face when seeking Western medical treatment, the researcher explored the relationship between a medical provider's familiarity with traditional healing practices and their beliefs about the efficacy of those practices. These results were compared to proximity and saturation norms for the AI/AN population in the provider's communities. One hundred and thirty providers were surveyed about their familiarity with traditional medicine, their proximity to AI/AN individuals, and their beliefs about the efficacy of traditional methods of healing. Exploratory questions were also surveyed around willingness to refer out for treatment and beliefs about the familiarity and efficacy of Western methods. Results supported that, in general, the more familiar a provider was with a traditional treatment (even if they did not practice it), the more efficacious they believed this treatment to be. This correlation was not found when compared to Western medical practices. Implications surrounding providing culturally appropriate treatment to the AI/AN were explored and future directions for research are discussed.


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