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Int J Circumpolar Health. 2008 Jun;67(2-3):179-89.

An overview of Aboriginal health research in the social sciences: current trends and future directions.

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  • 1Department of Geography, University of Toronto Mississauga, Toronto, Canada.



To examine if Aboriginal health research conducted within the field of social sciences reflects the population and geographic diversity of the Aboriginal population.




We searched the Web of Science Social Science Citation Index, the Arts and Humanities Citation Index and Scholars Portal for the time period 1995-2005 using search terms to reflect different names used to refer to Canada's Aboriginal peoples. Citations that did not focus on health or Canada were eliminated. Each paper was coded according to 7 broad categories: Aboriginal identity group; geography; age; health status; health determinants; health services; and methods.


Based on the 96 papers reviewed, the results show an under-representation of M├ętis and urban Aboriginal peoples. Most of the papers are on health status and non-medical determinants of health, with a particular focus on chronic conditions and life-style behaviours. Only 6 papers examined traditional approaches to healing and/or access to traditional healers/medicines. A small number involved the use of community-based research methods.


Further research is required to address gaps in the current body of literature. Community-based research studies are necessary to address gaps that are most relevant to Aboriginal peoples.

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