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Pathways to improving well-being for Indigenous peoples: How living conditions decide health

This report provides an overview to how the socio-economic determinants of health are connected to health inequities for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The authors draw attention to the social gradient in determinants like income, unemployment, and education: the higher your socio-economic level the healthier you tend to be. The authors draw on research and health status data to document what is known about the effects of the following determinants on the health of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada. 

  • social/community supports and networks
  • housing
  • health care access
  • early life (prenatal influences and breastfeeding)
  • healthy living (affordable, nutritious food and active lifestyles)
  • substance use and misuse (tobacco, alcohol,  and drugs)
  • The authors explore how these determinants interrelate, why they are so powerful, and what can be done in these social-economic areas to improve health outcomes.

The main message of the report is that research and intervention strategies must adopt a holistic “life course approach from a social determinants of health perspective.”  We must not only consider the complex web of socio-economic determinants, but also the interactions that operate throughout an individual’s life and across generations.

The authors makes a strong case for paying attention to the foundational impacts of colonization, and for conducting research focused on finding and supporting interventions that make a difference.

Use this resource to

  • learn about the social gradient in health status between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations in Canada
  • improve your understanding of how the social determinants of health impact the health status of Aboriginal people
  • identify interventions that show promise for improving the social determinants of health and health equity for Indigenous peoples

Reading, J. & Halseth, R. (2013). Pathways to improving well-being for Indigenous peoples: How living conditions decide health.  Prince George, BC: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health.

Tags: Aboriginal health , Access to health services, Assess and report, Critical works in health equity, Early childhood development, Food security, Income inequality, Racism/racialization, Document

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