New research highlights the importance of culturally safe care for Indigenous patients with diabetes

January 23, 2017, Queen's University

In Canada, rates of Type 2 diabetes are three to five percent higher in Indigenous peoples when compared to non-Indigenous peoples. Not only this, but Indigenous Canadians typically have poorer health outcomes during treatment of diabetes.

Queen's family medicine professor Dr. Michael Green has co-authored a study with colleagues from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the University of Calgary, and the University of British Columbia on the healthcare experiences of Indigenous patients with diabetes. The study found that many patients experienced culturally unsafe care - a factor that may contribute to poorer health outcomes.

"Many of the participants in our study reported that with the health care system made them reluctant to seek the care they needed or to want to actively engage in the care of their diabetes," says Dr. Green.

Participants in the study reported issues with the health-care system including having the health system experience trigger traumatic childhood memories at residential schools, interactions that patients felt were racially motivated, limited access to care due to physician shortages and geographic isolation, and negative interactions with health-care professionals.

This study also found that many Indigenous patients avoided or disengaged from their care because of negative experiences such as derogatory or judgmental comments by health-care providers, or visual triggers in health-care settings

The research showed health-care relationships can be repaired when health care providers demonstrate empathy, humility, and patience.

"We also learned important lessons directly from Indigenous patients about what and health systems can do to help build positive relationships and what they need to learn to provide care that is both effective and culturally safe," says Dr. Green.

The research suggests a two-pronged approach to improving health care for Indigenous peoples. First, the study recommended a stronger focus on cultural safety training and antiracism education for workers including a stronger emphasis on relationship development and advocacy.

Second, the study recommends enhancing patient-centered approaches to care to respond to the cultural and social needs of Indigenous patients.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Explore further: Closing the Australian eye health gap may be in sight

More information: Canadian Medical Association Journal, DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.161098,

Related Stories

Closing the Australian eye health gap may be in sight

June 30, 2015
Three years after the launch of the roadmap to close the gap for vision, progress has been made but "much remains to be done", according to the authors of a Perspective published online today by the Medical Journal of Australia.

Physician volume may have a negative impact on quality of diabetes care

December 12, 2016
Primary care physicians with busier outpatient practices may deliver lower-quality diabetes care. The findings of a population-based cohort study are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Communication and coordination of care are important for ensuring lupus patients' health

September 7, 2016
Results from a recent study suggest that improved communication and coordination of care between patients, physicians, and health insurers can provide important health benefits for patients with lupus.

Patients with IBS often have negative health care encounters

June 1, 2016
(HealthDay)—Patients suffering from severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often have negative experiences of health care encounters, and actively negotiate such professional discourse by presenting a counternarrative describing ...

Involved patients have better health care experiences

August 15, 2013
(HealthDay)—Health care providers and patients shape the care experience, and strategies to improve care interactions should also help patients ensure that their needs are met, according to research published in the July ...

Diabetes care for African-Americans can be improved

April 1, 2013
(HealthDay)—For African-Americans with type 2 diabetes, health care-promoted interventions targeting patients, the health care system, or both, can improve the quality of care, according to a review and meta-analysis published ...

Recommended for you

Whether sustained or sporadic, exercise offers same reductions in death risk

March 22, 2018
For decades, Americans have been inundated with a confusing barrage of messages about how best to counteract the health risks of sedentary lifestyles: walk 10,000 steps a day; do a seven-minute workout from a phone app; flip ...

Tai chi as good as or better than aerobic exercise for managing chronic pain

March 21, 2018
The ancient martial art of tai chi has similar or greater benefits than aerobic exercise for people with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Study: Poor health is a less common cause of bankruptcy than commonly thought, but it brings other economic woes

March 21, 2018
A team of researchers led by an MIT economist has found that medical expenses account for roughly 4 percent of bankruptcy filings among nonelderly adults in the U.S.

Study finds bad sleep habits start early in school-age children

March 21, 2018
Bad sleep habits in children begin earlier than many experts assume. That's the takeaway from a new study led by McGill University researchers. The findings suggest that official sleep guidelines for young school children ...

Medical expansion has improved health—with one exception

March 21, 2018
While Americans debate the rising cost of health care, a new study of 30 countries over 27 years found that medical expansion has improved overall health - with one major exception.

Forgetting details, getting the gist may prompt false memories in older adults

March 21, 2018
Older adults often complain about forgetting, but Penn State psychologists suggest that another problem may be misremembering.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.