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J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2004 Mar;26(3):211-6.

Health sciences research and Aboriginal communities: pathway or pitfall?

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON.



To provide health researchers and clinicians with background information and examples regarding Aboriginal health research challenges, in an effort to promote effective collaborative research with Aboriginal communities.


An interdisciplinary team of experienced Aboriginal-health researchers conducted a thematic analysis of their planning meetings regarding a community-based Aboriginal health research training project and of the text generated by the meetings and supplemented the analysis with a literature review.


Four research challenges are identified and addressed: (1) contrasting frameworks of Western science and indigenous knowledge systems; (2) the impact of historic colonialist processes upon the interface between health science research and Aboriginal communities; (3) culturally relevant frameworks and processes for knowledge generation and knowledge transfer; and (4) Aboriginal leadership, governance, and participation.


Culturally appropriate and community-controlled collaborative research can result in improved health outcomes in Aboriginal communities and contribute new insights and perspectives to the fields of public health and medicine in general.

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