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Qual Health Res. 2013 Dec;23(12):1591-9. doi: 10.1177/1049732313508843. Epub 2013 Oct 24.

Sanitoriums and the Canadian colonial legacy: the untold experiences of tuberculosis treatment.

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  • 11Institute of Health Economics, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Sanitoriums served a much-needed purpose in the age prior to antituberculosis drugs: They removed the infected patient from wider society and created an environment that promoted recovery. We aimed to (a) describe sanitoriums from the perspective of a First Nations reserve community in northern Canada and (b) understand the impact of the sanitorium experience at a community level. Semistructured interviews (n = 15) were conducted in a First Nations reserve community with a high incidence of tuberculosis. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to obtain the sample. Data collection and analysis were iterative, using qualitative content analysis. Participants described the exclusion resulting within and because of sanitoriums. Exclusion within sanitoriums was categorized into (a) the exclusion of Aboriginal culture and practices of healing from the treatment of tuberculosis and (b) the internal exclusion, in which members of the community internally labeled the healed individual postsanitorium as an outsider.


Aboriginal people, North America; community and public health; relationships, patient–provider; tuberculosis

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