The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence rates for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer screening among American Indian and Alaska Native people living in Alaska and in the Southwest US, and to investigate predictive factors associated with receiving each of the cancer screening tests.
We used the Education and Research Towards Health (EARTH) Study to measure self-reported cancer screening prevalence rates among 11,358 study participants enrolled in 2004–2007. We used prevalence odds ratios to examine demographic, lifestyle and medical factors associated with receiving age- and sex-appropriate cancer screening tests.
The prevalence rates of all the screening tests were higher in Alaska than in the Southwest. Pap test in the past 3 years was reported by 75.1% of women in Alaska and 64.6% of women in the Southwest. Mammography in the past 2 years was reported by 64.6% of women aged 40 years and older in Alaska and 44.0% of those in the Southwest. Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy in the past 5 years was reported by 41.1% of study participants aged 50 years and older in Alaska and by 11.7% of those in the Southwest US. Multivariate analysis found that location (Alaska versus the Southwest), higher educational status, income and the presence of one or more chronic medical condition predicted each of the three screening tests. Additional predictors of Pap test were age (women aged 25–39 years more likely to be screened than older or younger women), marital status (ever married more likely to be screened), and language spoken at home (speakers of American Indian Alaska Native language only less likely to be screened). Additional predictors of mammography were age (women aged 50 years and older were more likely to be screened than those aged 40–49 years), positive family history of breast cancer, use of smokeless tobacco (never users more likely to be screened), and urban/rural residency (urban residents more likely to be screened). Additional predictors of colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy were age (men and women aged 60 years and older slightly more likely to be screened than those aged 50–59 years), family history of any cancer, family history of colorectal cancer, former smoking, language spoken at home (speakers of American Indian Alaska Native language less likely to be screened), and urban/rural residence (urban residents more likely to be screened).
Programs to improve screening among American Indian and Alaska Native people should include efforts to reach individuals of lower socioeconomic status and who do not have regular contact with the medical care system. Special attention should be made to identify and provide needed services to those who live in rural areas, and to those living in the Southwest US.
Papanicolaou test; Mammography; Colon cancer screening; American Indian; Alaska Native
Alaska Native people have nearly twice the rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality as the US White population.
Building upon storytelling as a culturally respectful way to share information among Alaska Native people, a 25-minute telenovela-style movie, What's the Big Deal?, was developed to increase CRC screening awareness and knowledge, role-model CRC conversations, and support wellness choices.
Alaska Native cultural values of family, community, storytelling, and humor were woven into seven, 3–4 minute movie vignettes. Written post-movie viewing evaluations completed by 71.3% of viewers (305/428) were collected at several venues, including the premiere of the movie in the urban city of Anchorage at a local movie theater, seven rural Alaska community movie nights, and five cancer education trainings with Community Health Workers. Paper and pencil evaluations included check box and open-ended questions to learn participants' response to a telenovela-style movie.
On written-post movie viewing evaluations, viewers reported an increase in CRC knowledge and comfort with talking about recommended CRC screening exams. Notably, 81.6% of respondents (249/305) wrote positive intent to change behavior. Multiple responses included: 65% talking with family and friends about colon screening (162), 24% talking with their provider about colon screening (59), 31% having a colon screening (76), and 44% increasing physical activity (110).
Written evaluations revealed the telenovela genre to be an innovative way to communicate colorectal cancer health messages with Alaska Native, American Indian, and Caucasian people both in an urban and rural setting to empower conversations and action related to colorectal cancer screening. Telenovela is a promising health communication tool to shift community norms by generating enthusiasm and conversations about the importance of having recommended colorectal cancer screening exams.
storytelling; Alaska Native; telenovela; colorectal cancer screening; health communication; Community Health Workers
A variety of forces are now shaping a passionate debate regarding the optimal approaches to improving the quality of substance abuse services for American Indian and Alaska Native communities. While there have been some highly successful efforts to meld the traditions of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes with that of 12-step approaches, some American Indian and Alaska Natives remain profoundly uncomfortable with the dominance of this Euro-American approach to substance abuse treatment in their communities. This longstanding tension has now been complicated by the emergence of a number of evidence-based treatments that, while holding promise for improving treatment for American Indian and Alaska Natives with substance use problems, may conflict with both American Indian and Alaska Native and 12-step healing traditions.
We convened a panel of experts from American Indian and Alaska Native communities, substance abuse treatment programs serving these communities, and researchers to discuss and analyze these controversies in preparation for a national study of American Indian and Alaska Native substance abuse services. While the panel identified programs that are using evidence-based treatments, members still voiced concerns about the cultural appropriateness of many evidence-based treatments as well as the lack of guidance on how to adapt them for use with American Indians and Alaska Natives. The panel concluded that the efforts of federal and state policymakers to promote the use of evidence-based treatments are further complicating an already-contentious debate within American Indian and Alaska Native communities on how to provide effective substance abuse services. This external pressure to utilize evidence-based treatments is particularly problematic given American Indian and Alaska Native communities' concerns about protecting their sovereign status.
Broadening this conversation beyond its primary focus on the use of evidence-based treatments to other salient issues such as building the necessary research evidence (including incorporating American Indian and Alaska Native cultural values into clinical practice) and developing the human and infrastructural resources to support the use of this evidence may be far more effective for advancing efforts to improve substance abuse services for American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Among Alaska Native women residing in the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) Delta region of Western Alaska, about 79% smoke cigarettes or use smokeless tobacco during pregnancy. Treatment methods developed and evaluated among Alaska Native pregnant tobacco users do not exist. This pilot study used a randomized two-group design to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a targeted cessation intervention for Alaska Native pregnant women.
Recruitment occurred over an 8-month period. Enrolled participants were randomly assigned to the control group (n = 18; brief face-to-face counseling at the first visit and written materials) or to the intervention group (n = 17) consisting of face-to-face counseling at the first visit, four telephone calls, a video highlighting personal stories, and a cessation guide. Interview-based assessments were conducted at baseline and follow-up during pregnancy (≥60 days postrandomization). Feasibility was determined by the recruitment and retention rates.
The participation rate was very low with only 12% of eligible women (35/293) enrolled. Among enrolled participants, the study retention rates were high in both the intervention (71%) and control (94%) groups. The biochemically confirmed abstinence rates at follow-up were 0% and 6% for the intervention and control groups, respectively.
The low enrollment rate suggests that the program was not feasible or acceptable. Alternative approaches are needed to improve the reach and efficacy of cessation interventions for Alaska Native women.
In 1999, An Oral Health Survey of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Dental Patients found that 79% of 2- to 5-year-olds had a history of tooth decay. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in collaboration with Alaska's Tribal Health Organizations (THO) developed a new and diverse dental workforce model to address AI/AN oral health disparities.
This paper describes the workforce model and some experience to date of the Dental Health Aide (DHA) Initiative that was introduced under the federally sanctioned Community Health Aide Program in Alaska. These new dental team members work with THO dentists and hygienists to provide education, prevention and basic restorative services in a culturally appropriate manner.
The DHA Initiative introduced 4 new dental provider types to Alaska: the Primary Dental Health Aide, the Expanded Function Dental Health Aide, the Dental Health Aide Hygienist and the Dental Health Aide Therapist. The scope of practice between the 4 different DHA providers varies vastly along with the required training and education requirements. DHAs are certified, not licensed, providers. Recertification occurs every 2 years and requires the completion of 24 hours of continuing education and continual competency evaluation.
Dental Health Aides provide evidence-based prevention programs and dental care that improve access to oral health care and help address well-documented oral health disparities.
dental workforce; dental mid-level providers; dental therapist
Several studies have shown that Alaska Native people have higher smoking prevalence than non-Natives. However, no population-based studies have explored whether smoking-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors also differ among Alaska Native people and non-Natives.
We compared current smoking prevalence and smoking-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of Alaska Native adults living in the state of Alaska with non-Natives.
We used Alaska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for 1996 to 2010 to compare smoking prevalence, consumption, and cessation- and second-hand smoke-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among self-identified Alaska Native people and non-Natives.
Current smoking prevalence was 41% (95% CI: 37.9%–44.4%) among Alaska Native people compared with 17.1% (95% CI: 15.9%–18.4%) among non-Natives. Among current every day smokers, Alaska Natives were much more likely to smoke less than 10 cigarettes per day (OR=5.0, 95% CI: 2.6–9.6) than non-Natives. Compared with non-Native smokers, Alaska Native smokers were as likely to have made a past year quit attempt (OR=1.4, 95% CI: 0.9–2.1), but the attempt was less likely to be successful (OR=0.5, 95% CI: 0.2–0.9). Among current smokers, Alaska Natives were more likely to believe second-hand smoke (SHS) was very harmful (OR=4.5, 95% CI: 2.8–7.2), to believe that smoking should not be allowed in indoor work areas (OR=1.9, 95% CI: 1.1–3.1) or in restaurants (OR=4.2, 95% CI: 2.5–6.9), to have a home smoking ban (OR=2.5, 95% CI: 1.6–3.9), and to have no home exposure to SHS in the past 30 days (OR=2.3, 95% CI: 1.5–3.6) than non-Natives.
Although a disparity in current smoking exists, Alaska Native people have smoking-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that are encouraging for reducing the burden of smoking in this population. Programs should support efforts to promote cessation, prevent relapse, and establish smoke-free environments.
smoking; smoking cessation; Alaska Native people; disparities; indigenous populations
The authors surveyed coordinators and health professionals from 1,600 primary health care units across Brazil regarding their knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to cervical cancer and human papillomavirus vaccination. Results showed that overscreening may be impeding efforts to increase cervical cancer screening coverage among the eligible target population of women aged 25–64 years and that educational efforts may be needed to increase knowledge about targeting age-appropriate groups for human papillomavirus vaccination.
Brazil’s national strategy for cervical cancer screening includes using the Papanicolaou (Pap) test every 3 years among women aged 25–64 years. Comprehensive primary care services are provided through a network of primary health units, but little is known about cervical cancer-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices among health professionals and coordinators working in these facilities.
In 2011, we conducted a cross-sectional nationally representative phone survey of 1,600 primary health care units to interview one unit coordinator and one health care professional per unit (either nurse, physician, or community health worker). Responses were obtained from 1,251 coordinators, 182 physicians, 347 nurses, and 273 community health workers. Questionnaires were administered to assess health units’ characteristics and capacity for cervical cancer-related services as well as health professionals’ perceived effectiveness of the Pap test, preparedness to talk to women about cervical cancer, adherence with screening guidelines, and willingness to recommend human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to females.
Most units conducted screening (91.9%), used home visits to conduct recruitment and outreach (83.4%), and provided follow-up to women who did not return to discuss Pap test results (88.1%). Approximately 93% of health professionals stated that Pap testing was effective in decreasing death rates from cervical cancer and 65% stated that national guidelines for cervical cancer screening are very influential; 93% of nurses and physicians reported screening women annually and 75% reported beginning to screen women younger than 25 years old. Regarding HPV vaccination, almost 90% of nurses and physicians would recommend the HPV vaccine to their females patients if it were available. A larger proportion of physicians and nurses recommended the HPV vaccine to older girls (13–18 years) and women (19–26 years and even older than 26 years) than to younger girls (12 years or younger).
Although Brazil’s network of primary care units has significantly increased access to cervical cancer screening, effective strategies are needed to ensure that women get screened at the appropriate ages and intervals. Additionally, this study’s baseline data on HPV vaccination may be useful as Brazil embarks on a national HPV vaccination program in 2014.
Cervical cancer screening in Brazil; Global health; HPV vaccination; Cervical cancer knowledge
Metabolic syndrome occurs commonly in the United States. The purpose of this study was to measure the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among American Indian and Alaska Native people.
We measured the prevalence rates of metabolic syndrome, as defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program, among four groups of American Indian and Alaska Native people aged 20 years and older. One group was from the southwestern United States (Navajo Nation), and three groups resided within Alaska. Prevalence rates were age-adjusted to the U.S. adult 2000 population and compared to rates for U.S. whites (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES] 1988–1994).
Among participants from the southwestern United States, metabolic syndrome was found among 43.2% of men and 47.3% of women. Among Alaska Native people, metabolic syndrome was found among 26.5% of men and 31.2% of women. In Alaska, the prevalence rate varied by region, ranging among men from 18.9% (western Alaska) to 35.1% (southeast), and among women from 22.0% (western Alaska) to 38.4 % (southeast). Compared to U.S. whites, American Indian/Alaska Native men and women from all regions except western Alaska were more likely to have metabolic syndrome; men in western Alaska were less likely to have metabolic syndrome than U.S. whites, and the prevalence among women in western Alaska was similar to that of U.S. whites.
The prevalence rate of metabolic syndrome varies widely among different American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Differences paralleled differences in the prevalence rates of diabetes.
American Indians and Alaska Natives have traditionally used stories and
drawings to positively influence the well-being of their communities.
The objective of this study was to describe the development of a curriculum
that trains Native youth leaders to plan, write, and design original comic books to
enhance healthy decision making.
Project staff developed the Native Comic Book Project by adapting Dr. Michael
Bitz’s Comic Book Project to incorporate Native comic book art, Native
storytelling, and decision-making skills. After conducting five train-the-trainer
sessions for Native youth, staff were invited by youth participants to implement the
full curriculum as a pilot test at one tribal community site in the Pacific Northwest.
Implementation was accompanied by surveys and weekly participant observations and was
followed by an interactive meeting to assess youth engagement, determine project
acceptability, and solicit suggestions for curriculum changes.
Six youths aged 12 to 15 (average age = 14) participated in the Native Comic
Book Project. Youth participants stated that they liked the project and gained knowledge
of the harmful effects of commercial tobacco use but wanted better integration of comic
book creation, decision making, and Native storytelling themes.
Previous health-related comic book projects did not recruit youth as active
producers of content. This curriculum shows promise as a culturally appropriate
intervention to help Native youth adopt healthy decision-making skills and healthy
behaviors by creating their own comic books.
Comic books; American Indian/Alaska Native; Health education; Tobacco
Breast cancer screening continues to be underutilized by the population in general, but is particularly underutilized by traditionally underserved minority populations. Two of the most at risk female minority groups are American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and Latinas. American Indian women have the poorest recorded 5-year cancer survival rates of any ethnic group while breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer mortality among Latina women. Breast cancer screening rates for both minority groups are near or at the lowest among all racial/ethnic groups. As with other health screening behaviors, women may intend to get a mammogram but their intentions may not result in initiation or follow through of the examination process. An accumulating body of research, however, demonstrates the efficacy of developing 'implementation intentions' that define when, where, and how a specific behavior will be performed. The formulation of intended steps in addition to addressing potential barriers to test completion can increase a person's self-efficacy, operationalize and strengthen their intention to act, and close gaps between behavioral intention and completion. To date, an evaluation of the formulation of implementation intentions for breast cancer screening has not been conducted with minority populations.
In the proposed program, community health workers will meet with rural-dwelling Latina and American Indian women one-on-one to educate them about breast cancer and screening and guide them through a computerized and culturally tailored "implementation intentions" program, called Healthy Living Kansas - Breast Health, to promote breast cancer screening utilization. We will target Latina and AI/AN women from two distinct rural Kansas communities. Women attending community events will be invited by CHWs to participate and be randomized to either a mammography "implementation intentions" (MI2) intervention or a comparison general breast cancer prevention informational intervention (C). CHWs will be armed with notebook computers loaded with our Healthy Living Kansas - Breast Health program and guide their peers through the program. Women in the MI2 condition will receive assistance with operationalizing their screening intentions and identifying and addressing their stated screening barriers with the goal of guiding them toward accessing screening services near their community. Outcomes will be evaluated at 120-days post randomization via self-report and will include mammography utilization status, barriers, and movement along a behavioral stages of readiness to screen model.
This highly innovative project will be guided and initiated by AI/AN and Latina community members and will test the practical application of emerging behavioral theory among minority persons living in rural communities.
ClinicalTrials (NCT): NCT01267110
Tooth decay is the most common paediatric disease and there is a serious paediatric tooth decay epidemic in Alaska Native communities. When untreated, tooth decay can lead to pain, infection, systemic health problems, hospitalisations and in rare cases death, as well as school absenteeism, poor grades and low quality-of-life. The extent to which population-based oral health interventions have been conducted in Alaska Native paediatric populations is unknown.
To conduct a systematic review of oral health interventions aimed at Alaska Native children below age 18 and to present a case study and conceptual model on multilevel intervention strategies aimed at reducing sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake among Alaska Native children.
Based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement, the terms “Alaska Native”, “children” and “oral health” were used to search Medline, Embase, Web of Science, GoogleScholar and health foundation websites (1970–2012) for relevant clinical trials and evaluation studies.
Eighty-five studies were found in Medline, Embase and Web of Science databases and there were 663 hits in GoogleScholar. A total of 9 publications were included in the qualitative review. These publications describe 3 interventions that focused on: reducing paediatric tooth decay by educating families and communities; providing dental chemotherapeutics to pregnant women; and training mid-level dental care providers. While these approaches have the potential to improve the oral health of Alaska Native children, there are unique challenges regarding intervention acceptability, reach and sustainability. A case study and conceptual model are presented on multilevel strategies to reduce SSB intake among Alaska Native children.
Few oral health interventions have been tested within Alaska Native communities. Community-centred multilevel interventions are promising approaches to improve the oral and systemic health of Alaska Native children. Future investigators should evaluate the feasibility of implementing multilevel interventions and policies within Alaska Native communities as a way to reduce children's health disparities.
oral health disparities; Alaska Native health disparities; dental caries prevention; children; dental workforce; primary intervention in oral health; sugar-sweetened beverages
Mortality from breast cancer has increased among American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) women. Despite this alarming reality, AI/AN women have some of the lowest breast cancer screening rates. Only 37% of eligible AI/AN women report a mammogram within the last year and 52% report a mammogram within the last two years compared to 57% and 72% for White women. The experiences and satisfaction surrounding mammography for AI/AN women likely are different from that of women of other racial/ethnic groups, due to cultural differences and limited access to Indian Health Service sponsored mammography units. The overall goals of this study are to identify and understand the mammography experiences and experiential elements that relate to satisfaction or dissatisfaction with mammography services in an AI/AN population and to develop a culturally-tailored AI/AN mammography satisfaction survey.
Methods and Design
The three project aims that will be used to guide this work are: 1) To compare the mammography experiences and satisfaction with mammography services of Native American/Alaska Native women with that of Non-Hispanic White, Hispanic, and Black women, 2) To develop and validate the psychometric properties of an American Indian Mammography Survey, and 3) To assess variation among AI/AN women's assessments of their mammography experiences and mammography service satisfaction. Evaluations of racial/ethnic differences in mammography patient satisfaction have received little study, particularly among AI/AN women. As such, qualitative study is uniquely suited for an initial examination of their experiences because it will allow for a rich and in-depth identification and exploration of satisfaction elements.
This formative research is an essential step in the development of a validated and culturally tailored AI/AN mammography satisfaction assessment. Results from this project will provide a springboard from which a maximally effective breast cancer screening program to benefit AI/AN population will be developed and tested in an effort to alter the current breast cancer-related morbidity and mortality trajectory among AI/AN women.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents cervical pre-cancers and cancers caused by HPV types 16 and 18. This study provides information on the HPV types detected in cervical cancers of Alaska Native (AN) women.
Cases of invasive cervical cancer diagnosed in AN women aged 18 and above between 1980 and 2007 were identified from the Alaska Native Tumor Registry. A representative formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archived pathology block was retrieved and serially sectioned to allow histologic confirmation of lesion (first and last sections) and PCR testing of intervening sections. Extracted DNA was tested for HPV using Linear Array HPV Genotyping Test (Roche Diagnostics) with additional INNO-LiPA HPV Genotyping Assay (Innogenetics) testing on negative or inadequate specimens. All specimens were tested for a minimum 37 HPV types.
Of 62 cervical cancer specimens evaluated, 57 (91.9%) contained one or more HPV types. Thirty-eight (61.2%) cancers contained HPV types 16 or 18, and 18 (29%) contained an oncogenic type other than type 16 or 18.
Overall, almost two-thirds (61.2%) of the archived cervical cancers had detectible HPV types 16 or 18, a finding similar to studies of US women. As expected, a proportion of cancers would not be prevented by the current vaccines. HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening are important prevention strategies for AN women.
Alaska Native; HPV; cervical cancer; HPV genotypes
The high rates of cancer among American Indians and Alaska Natives are of growing concern.
In response to high cancer rates, national, state, and tribal organizations have worked to assess knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and screening practices related to cancer in American Indian and Alaska Native communities and to increase awareness and use of cancer screening. The National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one such effort. NCCCP's comprehensive cancer control (CCC) planning process provides a new approach to planning and implementing cancer control programs. The CCC process and components for American Indians and Alaska Natives are not yet fully understood because this is a fairly new approach for these communities. Therefore, the purpose of our case study was to describe the CCC process and its outcomes and successes as applied to these communities and to identify key components and lessons learned from the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency's (SPIPA's) CCC planning and community mobilization process.
We used interviews, document reviews, and observations to collect data on SPIPA's CCC planning and community mobilization process.
We identified the key components of SPIPA's CCC as funding and hiring key staff, partnering with outside organizations, developing a project management plan and a core planning team, creating community cancer orientations, conducting community cancer surveys, developing a community advisory committee, ongoing training and engaging of the community advisory committee, and supporting the leadership of the communities involved.
The CCC planning process is a practicable model, even for groups with little experience or few resources. The principles identified in this case study can be applied to the cancer control planning process for other tribes.
In 2001, the National Cancer Institute funded three centers to test the feasibility of establishing a cohort of American Indian and Alaska Native people. Participating tribal organizations named the study EARTH (Education and Research Towards Health). This paper describes the study methods. A computerized data collection and tracking system was developed using audio computer-assisted survey methodology with touch screens. Data were collected on diet, physical activity, lifestyle and cultural practices, medical and reproductive history, and family history of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In addition, a small panel of medical measurements was obtained, including height, weight, waist and hip circumferences, blood pressure, and a lipid panel plus glucose. At the completion of the enrollment visit, data were used to provide immediate health feedback to study participants. During the initial funding period, the authors anticipate enrolling 16,000 American Indian and Alaska Native participants. The age distribution of the study population was similar to that reported in the 2000 US Census for the relevant populations. A component critical to the success of the EARTH Study has been the partnerships with tribal members. The study has focused on involvement of American Indian and Alaska Native communities in development and implementation and on provision of feedback to participants and communities.
Alaska; cohort studies; diet; Indians, North American; methods
Multiple climatic, environmental and socio-economic pressures have accumulated to the point where they interfere with the ability of remote rural Alaska Native communities to achieve food security with locally harvestable food resources. The harvest of wild foods has been the historical norm, but most Alaska Native villages are transitioning to a cash economy, with increasing reliance on industrially produced, store-bought foods, and with less reliable access to and reliance on wild, country foods. While commercially available market foods provide one measure of food security, the availability and quality of market foods are subject to the vagaries and vulnerabilities of the global food system; access is dependent on one's ability to pay, is limited to what is available on the shelves of small rural stores, and, store-bought foods do not fulfill the important roles that traditional country foods play in rural communities and cultures. Country food access is also constrained by rising prices of fuel and equipment, a federal and state regulatory framework that sometimes hinders rather than helps rural subsistence users who need to access traditional food resources, a regulatory framework that is often not responsive to changes in climate, weather and seasonality, and a shifting knowledge base in younger generations about how to effectively harvest, process and store wild foods.
The general objective is to provide a framework for understanding the social, cultural, ecological and political dimensions of rural Alaska Native food security, and to provide information on the current trends in rural Alaska Native food systems.
This research is based on our long-term ethnographic, subsistence and food systems work in coastal and interior Alaska. This includes research about the land mammal harvest, the Yukon River and coastal fisheries, community and village gardens, small livestock production and red meat systems that are scaled appropriately to village size and capacity, and food-system intervention strategies designed to rebuild local and rural foodsheds and to restore individual and community health.
The contemporary cultural, economic and nutrition transition has severe consequences for the health of people and for the viability of rural communities, and in ways that are not well tracked by the conventional food security methodologies and frameworks. This article expands the discussion of food security and is premised on a holistic model that integrates the social, cultural, ecological, psychological and biomedical aspects of individual and community health.
We propose a new direction for food-system design that prioritizes the management of place-based food portfolios above the more conventional management of individual resources, one with a commitment to as much local and regional food production and/or harvest for local and regional consumption as is possible, and to community self-reliance and health for rural Alaska Natives.
food security; Alaskan food systems; community health and well-being; food portfolios
Prenatal smoking prevalence remains high in the United States. To reduce prenatal smoking prevalence, efforts should focus on delivering evidence-based cessation interventions to women who are most likely to smoke before pregnancy. Our objective was to identify groups with the highest prepregnancy smoking prevalence by age within 6 racial/ethnic groups.
We analyzed data from 186,064 women with a recent live birth from 32 states and New York City from the 2004-2008 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), a population-based survey of postpartum women. We calculated self-reported smoking prevalence during the 3 months before pregnancy for 6 maternal racial/ethnic groups by maternal age (18-24 y or ≥25 y). For each racial/ethnic group, we modeled the probability of smoking by age, adjusting for education, Medicaid enrollment, parity, pregnancy intention, state of residence, and year of birth.
Younger women had higher prepregnancy smoking prevalence (33.2%) than older women (17.6%), overall and in all racial/ethnic groups. Smoking prevalences were higher among younger non-Hispanic whites (46.4%), younger Alaska Natives (55.6%), and younger American Indians (46.9%). After adjusting for confounders, younger non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, Alaska Natives, and Asian/Pacific Islanders were 1.12 to 1.50 times as likely to smoke as their older counterparts.
Age-appropriate and culturally specific tobacco control interventions should be integrated into reproductive health settings to reach younger non-Hispanic white, Alaska Native, and American Indian women before they become pregnant.
The relationship between infection with high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer is transforming prevention through HPV vaccination and HPV oncogenic testing. In Ireland, a national cervical cancer screening programme and HPV vaccination were recently launched; HPV testing is currently being integrated into the screening programme. Women’s views on the transformation of cervical cancer prevention have been relatively little investigated.
Using qualitative focus groups, we determined women’s knowledge, attitudes towards, and acceptability of cervical cancer screening, HPV oncogenic testing and vaccination of HPV. Fifty nine women, recruited through primary care in Ireland, participated in ten focus groups. A dynamic topic guide was developed from literature reviewed. Women were provided with standardised information about HPV infection, HPV testing. Discussion transcripts were analysed thematically.
The primary themes that emerged regarding HPV infection were: knowledge, emotional response and societal influences; especially those of healthcare practitioners. Knowledge, logistics, and psychological impact were the primary themes relating to HPV testing. Women’s attitudes towards HPV testing changed during discussion as issues were explored, thus demonstrating the complexity of this issue; lack of existing treatment for HPV infection influenced women’s attitudes, attachment to existing cervical cancer screening also was a significant factor.
Women currently have a strong attachment to cytology and any changes towards HPV primary testing will need to be managed carefully. To ensure that future cervical cancer prevention strategies will be acceptable to women, sufficient thought will have to be given to information provision and education. We identified the importance to women of healthcare practitioners’ opinions regarding HPV. Appropriate and timely information on HPV will be crucial in order to minimise possible psychological effects women may have.
Cervical screening; HPV testing; Qualitative
Stress and trauma can compromise physical and mental health. Rural Alaska Native communities have voiced concern about stressful and traumatic events and their effects on health. The goal of the Yup’ik Experiences of Stress and Coping Project is to develop an in-depth understanding of experiences of stress and ways of coping in Yup’ik communities. The long-range goal is to use project findings to develop and implement a community-informed and culturally grounded intervention to reduce stress and promote physical and mental health in rural Alaska Native communities. This paper introduces a long-standing partnership between the Yukon-Kuskokwim Regional Health Corporation, rural communities it serves, and the Center for Alaska Native Health Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Within the context of the Stress and Coping project, we then discuss the value and challenges of taking a CBPR approach to advance science and address a priority community concern, and share strategies to respond to challenges. Focus groups were conducted to culturally adapt an existing structured interview and daily diary protocol to better fit Yup’ik ways of knowing. As modified, these interviews increased understanding of stress and coping particular to two Yup’ik communities. Challenges included the geographical nature of Yup’ik communities, communication barriers, competing priorities, and confidentiality issues. Community participation was central in the development of the study protocol, helped ensure that the research was culturally appropriate and relevant to the community, and facilitated access to participant knowledge and rich data to inform intervention development.
stress; coping; Alaska Native; rural; CBPR
Alaska Native populations are experiencing a nutrition transition and a resulting decrease in diet quality. The present study aimed to develop a quantitative food frequency questionnaire to assess the diet of the Yup'ik people of Western Alaska. A cross-sectional survey was conducted using 24-hour recalls and the information collected served as a basis for developing a quantitative food frequency questionnaire. A total of 177 males and females, aged 13-88, in six western Alaska communities, completed up to three 24-hour recalls as part of the Alaska Native Dietary and Subsistence Food Assessment Project. The frequency of the foods reported in the 24-hour recalls was tabulated and used to create a draft quantitative food frequency questionnaire, which was pilot tested and finalized with input from community members. Store-bought foods high in fat and sugar were reported more frequently than traditional foods. Seven of the top 26 foods most frequently reported were traditional foods. A 150-item quantitative food frequency questionnaire was developed that included 14 breads and crackers; 3 cereals; 11 dairy products; 69 meats, poultry and fish; 13 fruit; 22 vegetables; 9 desserts and snacks; and 9 beverages. The quantitative food frequency questionnaire contains 39 traditional food items. This quantitative food frequency questionnaire can be used to assess the unique diet of the Alaska Native people of Western Alaska. This tool will allow for monitoring of dietary changes over time as well as the identification of foods and nutrients that could be promoted in a nutrition intervention program intended to reduce chronic disease.
We described prevalence estimates of high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV), HPV types 16 and 18, and abnormal Papanicolaou (Pap) smear tests among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women compared with women of other races/ethnicities.
A total of 9,706 women presenting for cervical screening in a sentinel network of 26 clinics (sexually transmitted disease, family planning, and primary care) received Pap smears and HR-HPV type-specific testing. We compared characteristics of 291 women self-identified as AI/AN with other racial/ethnic minority groups.
In our population, AI/AN and non-Hispanic white (NHW) women had similar age- and clinic-adjusted prevalences of HR-HPV (29.1%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 23.9, 34.3 for AI/AN women vs. 25.8%, 95% CI 24.4, 27.2 for NHW women), HPV 16 and 18 (6.7%, 95% CI 3.9, 9.6 for AI/AN women vs. 8.8%, 95% CI 7.9, 9.7 for NHW women), and abnormal Pap smear test results (16%, 95% CI 11.7, 20.3 for AI/AN women vs. 14.9%, 95% CI 13.7, 16.0 for NHW women). AI/AN women had a higher prevalence of HR-HPV than Hispanic women, and a similar prevalence of HPV 16 and 18 as compared with Hispanic and African American women.
We could not demonstrate differences in the prevalence of HR-HPV, HPV 16 and 18, or abnormal Pap smear test results between AI/AN and NHW women. This finding should improve confidence in the benefit of HPV vaccine and Pap smear screening in the AI/AN population as an effective strategy to reduce rates of cervical cancer.
Cancer is the leading cause of death among Alaska Native people. The objective of this study was to examine cancer incidence data for 2007–2011, age-specific rates for a 15-year period, incidence trends for 1970–2011, and mortality trends for 1990–2011.
US data were from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program SEER*Stat database and from the SEER Alaska Native Tumor Registry. Age-adjusted cancer incidence rates among Alaska Native people and US whites were compared using rate ratios. Trend analyses were performed using the Joinpoint Regression Program. Mortality data were from National Center for Health Statistics.
During 2007–2011 the cancer incidence rate among Alaska Native women was 16% higher than the rate among US white women and was similar among Alaska Native men and US white men. Incidence rates among Alaska Native people exceeded rates among US whites for nasopharyngeal, stomach, colorectal, lung, and kidney cancer. A downward trend in colorectal cancer incidence among Alaska Native people occurred from 1999 to 2011. Significant declines in rates were not observed for other frequently diagnosed cancers or for all sites combined. Cancer mortality rates among Alaska Native people during 2 periods, 1990–2000 and 2001–2011, did not decline. Cancer mortality rates among Alaska Native people exceeded rates among US whites for all cancers combined; for cancers of the lung, stomach, pancreas, kidney, and cervix; and for colorectal cancer.
Increases in colorectal screening among Alaska Native people may be responsible for current declines in colorectal cancer incidence; however; improvements in treatment of colon and rectal cancers may also be contributing factors.
Breast cancer incidence and mortality have been increasing among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women, and their survival rate is the lowest of all racial/ethnic groups. Nevertheless, knowledge of AI/AN women’s breast cancer screening practices and their correlates is limited.
Using the 2003 California Health Interview Survey, we 1) compared the breast cancer screening practices of AI/AN women to other groups and 2) explored the association of several factors known or thought to influence AI/AN women’s breast cancer screening practices.
Compared to other races, AI/AN women had the lowest rate of mammogram screening (ever and within the past 2 years). For clinical breast exam receipt, Asian women had the lowest rate, followed by AI/AN women. Factors associated with AI/AN women’s breast cancer screening practices included older age, having a high school diploma or some college education, receipt of a Pap test within the past 3 years, and having visited a doctor within the past year.
Significant differences in breast cancer screening practices were noted between races, with AI/AN women often having significantly lower rates. Integrating these epidemiological findings into effective policy and practice requires additional applied research initiatives.
breast cancer screening; American Indian or Alaska Native; women’s health
Tobacco cessation interventions developed and evaluated for Alaska Native women do not exist. As part of routine clinical care provided at a prenatal visit, a brief tobacco educational intervention for Alaska Native pregnant women (N=100; mean ± SD age = 25.9±6.2 years; mean 6.3±2.6 months gestation) was piloted at the Y-K Delta Regional Hospital in Bethel, Alaska. This retrospective study reports on the evaluation of this clinical program. The intervention was consistent with the clinical practice guidelines (i.e., 5 A’s – ask, advise, assess, assist, arrange), with an average duration of 20.2 ± 6.8 minutes. The self-reported tobacco abstinence rate following the intervention was 11% at the last prenatal visit and 12% at delivery. Delivering a tobacco cessation intervention at a prenatal visit is feasible, but there is a need to identify more effective interventions for Alaska Native pregnant women.
Tobacco cessation; tobacco use; Alaska Native; pregnancy
Several preventive practices that reduce chronic disease risk have been
associated with breast and cervical cancer screening, including maintenance
of normal weight and avoidance of cigarette smoking. A history of certain
chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease has also been
related to cancer screening. Nevertheless, studies that have attempted to
identify women who are less likely to have had a recent breast or cervical
cancer screening test have infrequently examined the associations of breast
and cervical cancer screening with multiple health factors that influence
chronic disease risk.
To clarify relationships between cancer screening and health behaviors and
other factors that influence chronic disease risk, we examined the
self-reported breast and cervical cancer screening practices of women in the
United States by using data from the 1999 Behavioral Risk Factor
Surveillance System. The women were described according to their recent use
of mammography and the Papanicolaou test, physician visits within the past
year, health insurance coverage, and preventive practices that reduce
chronic disease risk.
Overall, 74.5% (95% CI, 73.9%-75.1%) of the women in this sample aged 40 years or older (n = 56,528) had received a mammogram within the past 2
years. The percentage of women who had been screened for breast cancer,
however, varied widely by factors associated with reducing the risk of chronic
disease (e.g., cholesterol check in the past 2 years, blood pressure check
in the past 2 years, normal weight, avoidance of cigarette smoking) and
having access to health care (e.g., health insurance coverage, recent
physician visit). Similarly, 84.4% (95% CI, 83.9%-84.9%) of all women aged
18 years or older who had not undergone a hysterectomy (n = 69,113) had
received a Papanicolaou test in the past 3 years, and factors associated
with reduced chronic disease risk and health care access were related to
having had a recent Papanicolaou test.
The results of this study suggest that underscreened women who are at risk
for breast and cervical cancer are likely to benefit from programs that
identify and address coexisting prevention needs. The identification of
coexisting prevention needs might assist in developing interventions that
address multiple risks for chronic disease among women and might
subsequently help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of prevention