Native American communities experience many obstacles to health and well-being due to adverse social, economic and environmental conditions. Few tribal public health programs are financed adequately to surmount these obstacles. Fewer still are locally financed and managed.
To help address this issue, the Texas A&M School of Public Health has been awarded $100,000 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a one-year developmental study to elicit the values and preferences of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) members to enhance the implementation of a locally designed and financed public health program named the Tasina Luta (or “Red Blanket” as translated from the Lakota Language). The Tasina Luta was developed in response to access challenges and the limited utilization of services for approximately 8,000 CRST members. The Tribe members live in a region of rural South Dakota where health outcome indicators are much lower than those found in the vast majority of the continental U.S.
[Photo: Dr. Barbara Quiram]
Leading the study will be School of Public Health faculty Dr. Barbara Quiram, professor and director of the Office of Special Programs and Global Health, and Dr. David Washburn, assistant professor. Using a community-based participatory research approach, Texas A&M researchers and the CRST Tribal Health Board will implement community engagement strategies, including focus groups and key stakeholder interviews with Tribe members to honor Tribal values and thereby enhance the implementation, dissemination, and promotion efforts of the program. Investigators will also examine the emerging collaborative relationships among the internally-developed CRST public health program and external state and federal agencies.
Ultimately, the study will advance knowledge of how the strong internal and weak external social ties found in some communities affect public health program diffusion. Findings aim to inform multi-culturally inclusive programming and promotion efforts especially in Tribal communities with strong social bonds.