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Chronic Dis Can. 1997;18(1):5-12.

Using participatory action research to understand the meanings aboriginal Canadians attribute to the rising incidence of diabetes.

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Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education, McGill University, Montréal, Québec.


This paper discusses the advantages of adopting forms of participatory action research with aboriginal Canadians. Using a recent qualitative study of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus among the James Bay Cree, it outlines and discusses the methodology used to construct a form of action research that focused on what meaning the Cree gave to the rising incidence and prevalence of diabetes. In order to understand this perspective, the researchers recruited members of the Cree community as co-researchers in the study. This facilitated the development of a Cree perspective on diabetes and also allowed the Cree members of the study to acquire a grounding in the knowledge and skills necessary for forms of qualitative research that can inform both policy and practice in health care and related areas. In particular, the paper discusses how the study was constructed and what lessons can be drawn from this form of collaborative inquiry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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