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1.  Food choices and practices during pregnancy of immigrant women with high-risk pregnancies in Canada: a pilot study 
Background
Immigrant women may be regarded as a vulnerable population with respect to access and navigation of maternity care services. They may encounter difficulties when accessing culturally safe and appropriate maternity care, which may be further exacerbated by language difficulties and discriminatory practices or attitudes. The project aimed to understand ethnocultural food and health practices and how these intersect in a particular social context of cultural adaptation and adjustment in order to improve the care-giving capacities of health practitioners working in multicultural perinatal clinics.
Methods
This four-phase study employed a case study design allowing for multiple means of data collection and different units of analysis. Phase one consists of a scoping review of the literature. Phases two and three incorporate pictorial representations of food choices with semi-structured photo-elicited interviews. This study was undertaken at a Prenatal and Obstetric Clinic, in an urban Canadian city. In phase four, the research team will inform the development of culturally appropriate visual tools for health promotion.
Results
Five themes were identified: (a) Perceptions of Health, (b) Social Support (c) Antenatal Foods (d) Postnatal Foods and (e) Role of Health Education. These themes provide practitioners with an understanding of the cultural differences that affect women’s dietary choices during pregnancy. The project identified building collaborations between practitioners and families of pregnant immigrant women to be of utmost importance in supporting healthy pregnancies, along with facilitating social support for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Conclusion
In a multicultural society that contemporary Canada is, it is challenging for health practitioners to understand various ethnocultural dietary norms and practices. Practitioners need to be aware of customary practices of the ethnocultural groups that they work with, while simultaneously recognizing the variation within—not everyone follows customary practices, individuals may pick and choose which customary guidelines they follow. What women choose to eat is also influenced by their own experiences, access to particular foods, socioeconomic status, family context, and so on.
The pilot study demonstrated the efficacy of the employed research strategies and we subsequently acquired funding for a national study.
doi:10.1186/s12884-014-0370-6
PMCID: PMC4260194  PMID: 25467067
Pregnancy; Food choices; Immigrant women; Perinatal
2.  A Guide for Health Professionals Working with Aboriginal Peoples: Executive Summary 
Objective
to provide Canadian health professionals with a network of information and recommendations regarding Aboriginal health.
Options
health professionals working with Aboriginal individuals and communities in the area of women’s health care.
Outcomes
improved health status of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Appropriateness and accessibility of women’s health services for Aboriginal peoples.
Improved communication and clinical skills of health professionals in the area of Aboriginal health.
Improved quality of relationship between health professionals and Aboriginal individuals and communities.
Improved quality of relationship between health care professionals and Aboriginal individuals and communities.
Evidence
recommendations are based on expert opinion and a review of the literature. Published references were identified by a Medline search of all review articles, randomized clinical control trials, meta-analyses, and practice guidelines from 1966 to February 1999, using the MeSH headings “Indians, North American or Eskimos” and “Health.”* Subsequently published articles were brought to the attention of the authors in the process of writing and reviewing the document. Ancillary and unpublished references were recommended by members of the SOGC Aboriginal Health Issues Committee and the panel of expert reviewers.
Values
information collected was reviewed by the principal author. The social, cultural, political, and historic context of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, systemic barriers regarding the publication of information by Aboriginal authors, the diversity of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and the need for a culturally appropriate and balanced presentation were carefully considered in addition to more traditional scientific evaluation. The majority of information collected consisted of descriptive health and social information and such evaluation tools as the evidence guidelines of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health exam were not appropriate.
Benefits, costs, and harms
utilization of the information and recommendations by Canadian health professionals will enhance understanding, communication, and clinical skills in the area of Aboriginal health. The resulting enhancement of collaborative relationships between Aboriginal peoples and their women’s health providers may contribute to health services that are more appropriate, effective, efficient, and accessible for Aboriginal peoples in Canada. The educational process may require an initial investment of time from the health professional.
Recommendations
Recommendations were grouped according to four themes: sociocultural context, health concerns, cross-cultural understanding, and Aboriginal health resources. Health professionals are encouraged to learn the appropriate names, demographics, and traditional geographic territories and language groups of the various Aboriginal groups in Canada. In addition, sensitivity to the impact of colonization and current socioeconomic challenges to the health status of Aboriginal peoples is warranted. Health services for Aboriginal peoples should take place as close to home as possible. Governmental obligations and policies regarding determination are recognized. With respect to health concerns, holistic definitions of health, based on Aboriginal perspectives, are put forward. Aboriginal peoples continue to experience a disproportionate burden of health problems. Health professionals are encouraged to become familiar with several key areas of morbidity and mortality. Relationships between Aboriginal peoples and their care providers need to be based on a foundation of mutual respect. Gaps and barriers in the current health care system for Aboriginal peoples are identified. Health professionals are encouraged to work with Aboriginal individuals and communities to address these gaps and barriers. Aboriginal peoples require culturally appropriate health care, including treatment in their own languages when possible. This may require interpreters or Aboriginal health advocates. Health professionals are encouraged to recognize the importance of family and community roles, and to respect traditional medicines and healers. Health professionals can develop their sensitivities towards Aboriginal peoples by participating in workshops, making use of educational resources, and by spending time with Aboriginal peoples in their communities. Aboriginal communities and health professionals are encouraged to support community-based, community-directed health services and health research for Aboriginal peoples. In addition, the education of more Aboriginal health professionals is essential. The need for a preventative approach to health programming in Aboriginal communities is stressed.
Validation
recommendations were reviewed and revised by the SOGC Aboriginal Health Issues Committee, a panel of expert reviewers, and the SOGC Council. In addition, this document was also reviewed and supported by the Assembly of First Nations, Canadian Institute of Child Health, Canadian Paediatric Society, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Federation of Medical Women of Canada, Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, Metis National Council, National Indian and Inuit Community Health Representatives Organization, and Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association.
Sponsor
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.
PMCID: PMC3653835  PMID: 23682204 CAMSID: cams2752
3.  Shared decision-making and health for First Nations, Métis and Inuit women: a study protocol 
Background
Little is known about shared decision-making (SDM) with Métis, First Nations and Inuit women (“Aboriginal women”). SDM is a collaborative process that engages health care professional(s) and the client in making health decisions and is fundamental for informed consent and patient-centred care. The objective of this study is to explore Aboriginal women’s health and social decision-making needs and to engage Aboriginal women in culturally adapting an SDM approach.
Methods
Using participatory research principles and guided by a postcolonial theoretical lens, the proposed mixed methods research will involve three phases. Phase I is an international systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions for Aboriginal peoples’ health decision-making. Developed following dialogue with key stakeholders, proposed methods are guided by the Cochrane handbook and include a comprehensive search, screening by two independent researchers, and synthesis of findings. Phases II and III will be conducted in collaboration with Minwaashin Lodge and engage an urban Aboriginal community of women in an interpretive descriptive qualitative study. In Phase II, 10 to 13 Aboriginal women will be interviewed to explore their health/social decision-making experiences. The interview guide is based on the Ottawa Decision Support Framework and previous decisional needs assessments, and as appropriate may be adapted to findings from the systematic review. Digitally-recorded interviews will be transcribed verbatim and analyzed inductively to identify participant decision-making approaches and needs when making health/social decisions. In Phase III, there will be cultural adaptation of an SDM facilitation tool, the Ottawa Personal Decision Guide, by two focus groups consisting of five to seven Aboriginal women. The culturally adapted guide will undergo usability testing through individual interviews with five to six women who are about to make a health/social decision. Focus groups and individual interviews will be digitally-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed inductively to identify the adaptation required and usability of the adapted decision guide.
Discussion
Findings from this research will produce a culturally sensitive intervention to facilitate SDM within a population of urban Aboriginal women, which can subsequently be evaluated to determine impacts on narrowing health/social decision-making inequities.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-146
PMCID: PMC3541952  PMID: 23249503
First Nations; Inuit and Métis women; Shared decision-making; Equity; Health equity; Participatory research principles; Cultural adaption
4.  Help bring back the celebration of life: A community-based participatory study of rural Aboriginal women’s maternity experiences and outcomes 
Background
Despite clear evidence regarding how social determinants of health and structural inequities shape health, Aboriginal women’s birth outcomes are not adequately understood as arising from the historical, economic and social circumstances of their lives. The purpose of this study was to understand rural Aboriginal women’s experiences of maternity care and factors shaping those experiences.
Methods
Aboriginal women from the Nuxalk, Haida and 'Namgis First Nations and academics from the University of British Columbia in nursing, medicine and counselling psychology used ethnographic methods within a participatory action research framework. We interviewed over 100 women, and involved additional community members through interviews and community meetings. Data were analyzed within each community and across communities.
Results
Most participants described distressing experiences during pregnancy and birthing as they grappled with diminishing local maternity care choices, racism and challenging economic circumstances. Rural Aboriginal women’s birthing experiences are shaped by the intersections among rural circumstances, the effects of historical and ongoing colonization, and concurrent efforts toward self-determination and more vibrant cultures and communities.
Conclusion
Women’s experiences and birth outcomes could be significantly improved if health care providers learned about and accounted for Aboriginal people’s varied encounters with historical and ongoing colonization that unequivocally shapes health and health care. Practitioners who better understand Aboriginal women’s birth outcomes in context can better care in every interaction, particularly by enhancing women’s power, choice, and control over their experiences. Efforts to improve maternity care that account for the social and historical production of health inequities are crucial.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-26
PMCID: PMC3577503  PMID: 23360168
Aboriginal; Rural; Maternity care; Outcomes; Colonialism; Critical ethnography
5.  Immigrant women’s experiences of postpartum depression in Canada: a protocol for systematic review using a narrative synthesis 
Systematic Reviews  2013;2:65.
Background
Literature documents that immigrant women in Canada have a higher prevalence of postpartum depression symptomatology than Canadian-born women. There exists a need to synthesize information on the contextual factors and social determinants of health that influence immigrant women’s reception of and behavior in accessing existing mental health services. Our research question is: what are the ethnoculturally defined patterns of help-seeking behaviors and decision-making and other predictive factors for therapeutic mental health care access and outcomes with respect to postpartum depression for immigrant women in Canada?
Methods/design
Our synthesis incorporates a systematic review using narrative synthesis of reports (peer- and non-peer reviewed) of empirical research and aims to provide stakeholders with perspectives on postpartum mental health care services as experienced by immigrant women. To reach this goal we are using integrated knowledge translation, thus partnering with key stakeholders throughout the planning, implementation and dissemination stages to ensure topic relevancy and impact on future practice and policy. The search and selection strategies draw upon established systematic review methodologies as outlined by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination and also incorporate guidelines for selection and appraisal of gray literature. Two search phases (a database and a gray literature phase) will identify literature for screening and final selection based on an inclusion/exclusion checklist. Quality appraisal will be performed using the tools produced by the Centre for Evidence Based Management. The narrative synthesis will be informed by Popay et al. (2006) framework using identified tools for each of its four elements. The integrated knowledge translation plan will ensure key messages are delivered in an audience-specific manner to optimize their impact on policy and practice change throughout health service, public health, immigration and community sectors.
Discussion
The narrative synthesis methodology will facilitate understandings and acknowledgement of the broader influences of theoretical and contextual variables, such as race, gender, socio-economic status, pre-migration history and geographical location. Our review aims to have a substantive and sustainable impact on health outcomes, practice, programs and/or policy in the context of postpartum mental health of immigrant women. PROSPERO registration number CRD42012003020.
doi:10.1186/2046-4053-2-65
PMCID: PMC3765819  PMID: 23965183
Narrative synthesis; Immigrant women; Postpartum depression; Maternity care experiences; Canada; Systematic review protocol
6.  Identifying barriers and improving communication between cancer service providers and Aboriginal patients and their families: the perspective of service providers 
Background
Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes from cancer compared to the non-Aboriginal population. Some progress has been made in understanding Aboriginal Australians’ perspectives about cancer and their experiences with cancer services. However, little is known of cancer service providers’ (CSPs) thoughts and perceptions regarding Aboriginal patients and their experiences providing optimal cancer care to Aboriginal people. Communication between Aboriginal patients and non-Aboriginal health service providers has been identified as an impediment to good Aboriginal health outcomes. This paper reports on CSPs’ views about the factors impairing communication and offers practical strategies for promoting effective communication with Aboriginal patients in Western Australia (WA).
Methods
A qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with 62 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal CSPs from across WA was conducted between March 2006 - September 2007 and April-October 2011. CSPs were asked to share their experiences with Aboriginal patients and families experiencing cancer. Thematic analysis was carried out. Our analysis was primarily underpinned by the socio-ecological model, but concepts of Whiteness and privilege, and cultural security also guided our analysis.
Results
CSPs’ lack of knowledge about the needs of Aboriginal people with cancer and Aboriginal patients’ limited understanding of the Western medical system were identified as the two major impediments to communication. For effective patient–provider communication, attention is needed to language, communication style, knowledge and use of medical terminology and cross-cultural differences in the concept of time. Aboriginal marginalization within mainstream society and Aboriginal people’s distrust of the health system were also key issues impacting on communication. Potential solutions to effective Aboriginal patient-provider communication included recruiting more Aboriginal staff, providing appropriate cultural training for CSPs, cancer education for Aboriginal stakeholders, continuity of care, avoiding use of medical jargon, accommodating patients’ psychosocial and logistical needs, and in-service coordination.
Conclusion
Individual CSPs identified challenges in cross-cultural communication and their willingness to accommodate culture-specific needs within the wider health care system including better communication with Aboriginal patients. However, participants’ comments indicated a lack of concerted effort at the system level to address Aboriginal disadvantage in cancer outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-460
PMCID: PMC3835135  PMID: 24188503
Aboriginal; Indigenous; Cancer; Communication; Health service provider; Cancer service provider
7.  Exploration of the beliefs and experiences of Aboriginal people with cancer in Western Australia: a methodology to acknowledge cultural difference and build understanding 
Background
Aboriginal Australians experience poorer outcomes, and are 2.5 times more likely to die from cancer than non-Aboriginal people, even after adjustment for stage of diagnosis, cancer treatment and comorbidities. They are also less likely to present early as a result of symptoms and to access treatment. Psycho-social factors affect Aboriginal people's willingness and ability to participate in cancer-related screening and treatment services, but little exploration of this has occurred within Australia to date. The current research adopted a phenomenological qualitative approach to understand and explore the lived experiences of Aboriginal Australians with cancer and their beliefs and understanding around this disease in Western Australia (WA). This paper details considerations in the design and process of conducting the research.
Methods/Design
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for ethical conduct of Aboriginal research were followed. Researchers acknowledged the past negative experiences of Aboriginal people with research and were keen to build trust and relationships prior to conducting research with them. Thirty in-depth interviews with Aboriginal people affected by cancer and twenty with health service providers were carried out in urban, rural and remote areas of WA. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two researchers. NVivo7 software was used to assist data management and analysis. Participants' narratives were divided into broad categories to allow identification of key themes and discussed by the research team.
Discussion and conclusion
Key issues specific to Aboriginal research include the need for the research process to be relationship-based, respectful, culturally appropriate and inclusive of Aboriginal people. Researchers are accountable to both participants and the wider community for reporting their findings and for research translation so that the research outcomes benefit the Aboriginal community. There are a number of factors that influence whether the desired level of engagement can be achieved in practice. These include the level of resourcing for the project and the researchers' efforts to ensure dissemination and research translation; and the capacity of the Aboriginal community to engage with research given other demands upon their time.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-9-60
PMCID: PMC2743702  PMID: 19674484
8.  “I have to do what I believe”: Sudanese women’s beliefs and resistance to hegemonic practices at home and during experiences of maternity care in Canada 
Background
Evidence suggests that immigrant women having different ethnocultural backgrounds than those dominant in the host country have difficulty during their access to and reception of maternity care services, but little knowledge exists on how factors such as ethnic group and cultural beliefs intersect and influence health care access and outcomes. Amongst immigrant populations in Canada, refugee women are one of the most vulnerable groups and pregnant women with immediate needs for health care services may be at higher risk of health problems. This paper describes findings from the qualitative dimension of a mixed-methodological study.
Methods
A focused ethnographic approach was conducted in 2010 with Sudanese women living in an urban Canadian city. Focus group interviews were conducted to map out the experiences of these women in maternity care, particularly with respect to the challenges faced when attempting to use health care services.
Results
Twelve women (mean age 36.6 yrs) having experience using maternity services in Canada within the past two years participated. The findings revealed that there are many beliefs that impact upon behaviours and perceptions during the perinatal period. Traditionally, the women mostly avoid anything that they believe could harm themselves or their babies. Pregnancy and delivery were strongly believed to be natural events without need for special attention or intervention. Furthermore, the sub-Saharan culture supports the dominance of the family by males and the ideology of patriarchy. Pregnancy and birth are events reflecting a certain empowerment for women, and the women tend to exert control in ways that may or may not be respected by their husbands. Individual choices are often made to foster self and outward-perceptions of managing one’s affairs with strength.
Conclusion
In today’s multicultural society there is a strong need to avert misunderstandings, and perhaps harm, through facilitating cultural awareness and competency of care rather than misinterpretations of resistance to care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-51
PMCID: PMC3599128  PMID: 23442448
Canada; Sudanese; Beliefs; Culture; Focused ethnography; Maternity; Refugee; Pregnancy
9.  Cultural repertoires and food-related household technology within colonia households under conditions of material hardship 
Introduction
Mexican-origin women in the U.S. living in colonias (new-destination Mexican-immigrant communities) along the Texas-Mexico border suffer from a high incidence of food insecurity and diet-related chronic disease. Understanding environmental factors that influence food-related behaviors among this population will be important to improving the well-being of colonia households. This article focuses on cultural repertoires that enable food choice and the everyday uses of technology in food-related practice by Mexican-immigrant women in colonia households under conditions of material hardship. Findings are presented within a conceptual framework informed by concepts drawn from sociological accounts of technology, food choice, culture, and material hardship.
Methods
Field notes were provided by teams of promotora-researchers (indigenous community health workers) and public-health professionals trained as participant observers. They conducted observations on three separate occasions (two half-days during the week and one weekend day) within eight family residences located in colonias near the towns of Alton and San Carlos, Texas. English observations were coded inductively and early observations stressed the importance of technology and material hardship in food-related behavior. These observations were further explored and coded using the qualitative data package Atlas.ti.
Results
Technology included kitchen implements used in standard and adapted configurations and household infrastructure. Residents employed tools across a range of food-related activities identified as forms of food acquisition, storage, preparation, serving, feeding and eating, cleaning, and waste processing. Material hardships included the quality, quantity, acceptability, and uncertainty dimensions of food insecurity, and insufficient consumption of housing, clothing and medical care. Cultural repertoires for coping with material hardship included reliance on inexpensive staple foods and dishes, and conventional and innovative technological practices. These repertoires expressed the creative agency of women colonia residents. Food-related practices were constrained by climate, animal and insect pests, women’s gender roles, limitations in neighborhood and household infrastructure, and economic and material resources.
Conclusions
This research points to the importance of socioeconomic and structural factors such as gender roles, economic poverty and material hardship as constraints on food choice and food-related behavior. In turn, it emphasizes the innovative practices employed by women residents of colonias to prepare meals under these constraints.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-25
PMCID: PMC3442973  PMID: 22587790
10.  A descriptive phenomenology study of newcomers’ experience of maternity care services: Chinese women’s perspectives 
Background
Maternity health care available in Canada is based on the needs of women born in Canada and often lacks the flexibility to meet the needs of immigrant women. The purpose of this study was to explore immigrant Chinese women’s experiences in accessing maternity care, the utilization of maternity health services, and the obstacles they perceived in Canada.
Methods
This descriptive phenomenology study used in-depth semi-structured interviews to examine immigrant Chinese women’s experiences. Fifteen participants were recruited from the Chinese community in Toronto, Canada by using purposive sampling. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim into written Chinese. The transcripts were analyzed using Colaizzi’s (1978) phenomenological method.
Results
Six themes were extracted from the interviews: (1) preference for linguistically and culturally competent healthcare providers, with obstetricians over midwives, (2) strategies to deal with the inconvenience of the Canadian healthcare system (3) multiple resources to obtain pregnancy information, (4) the merits of the Canadian healthcare system, (5) the need for culturally sensitive care, and (6) the emergence of alternative supports and the use of private services.
Conclusions
The findings provide new knowledge and understanding of immigrant Chinese women’s experiences in accessing maternity health services within a large metropolitan Canadian city. Participants described two unique experiences within the themes: preference for linguistically and culturally competent healthcare providers, with obstetricians over midwives, and the emergence of alternative supports and the use of private services. Few studies of immigrant maternity service access have identified these experiences which may be linked to cultural difference. Further investigation with women from different cultural backgrounds is needed to develop a comprehensive understanding of immigrant women’s experiences with maternity care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-114
PMCID: PMC3975855  PMID: 24602231
Access to maternity health services; Chinese; Women; Immigrants
11.  "If you don't believe it, it won't help you": use of bush medicine in treating cancer among Aboriginal people in Western Australia 
Background
Little is known about the use of bush medicine and traditional healing among Aboriginal Australians for their treatment of cancer and the meanings attached to it. A qualitative study that explored Aboriginal Australians' perspectives and experiences of cancer and cancer services in Western Australia provided an opportunity to analyse the contemporary meanings attached and use of bush medicine by Aboriginal people with cancer in Western Australia
Methods
Data collection occurred in Perth, both rural and remote areas and included individual in-depth interviews, observations and field notes. Of the thirty-seven interviews with Aboriginal cancer patients, family members of people who died from cancer and some Aboriginal health care providers, 11 participants whose responses included substantial mention on the issue of bush medicine and traditional healing were selected for the analysis for this paper.
Results
The study findings have shown that as part of their healing some Aboriginal Australians use traditional medicine for treating their cancer. Such healing processes and medicines were preferred by some because it helped reconnect them with their heritage, land, culture and the spirits of their ancestors, bringing peace of mind during their illness. Spiritual beliefs and holistic health approaches and practices play an important role in the treatment choices for some patients.
Conclusions
Service providers need to acknowledge and understand the existence of Aboriginal knowledge (epistemology) and accept that traditional healing can be an important addition to an Aboriginal person's healing complementing Western medical treatment regimes. Allowing and supporting traditional approaches to treatment reflects a commitment by modern medical services to adopting an Aboriginal-friendly approach that is not only culturally appropriate but assists with the cultural security of the service.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-6-18
PMCID: PMC2902429  PMID: 20569478
12.  Aboriginal Families Study: a population-based study keeping community and policy goals in mind right from the start 
Background
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are between two to five times more likely to die in childbirth than non-Aboriginal women, and two to three times more likely to have a low birthweight infant. Babies with a low birthweight are more likely to have chronic health problems in adult life. Currently, there is limited research evidence regarding effective interventions to inform new initiatives to strengthen antenatal care for Aboriginal families.
Method/Design
The Aboriginal Families Study is a cross sectional population-based study investigating the views and experiences of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women having an Aboriginal baby in the state of South Australia over a 2-year period. The primary aims are to compare the experiences and views of women attending standard models of antenatal care with those accessing care via Aboriginal Family Birthing Program services which include Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care (AMIC) Workers as members of the clinical team; to assess factors associated with early and continuing engagement with antenatal care; and to use the information to inform strengthening of services for Aboriginal families. Women living in urban, regional and remote areas of South Australia have been invited to take part in the study by completing a structured interview or, if preferred, a self-administered questionnaire, when their baby is between 4–12 months old.
Discussion
Having a baby is an important life event in all families and in all cultures. How supported women feel during pregnancy, how women and families are welcomed by services, how safe they feel coming in to hospitals to give birth, and what happens to families during a hospital stay and in the early months after the birth of a new baby are important social determinants of maternal, newborn and child health outcomes. The Aboriginal Families Study builds on consultation with Aboriginal communities across South Australia. The project has been implemented with guidance from an Aboriginal Advisory Group keeping community and policy goals in mind right from the start. The results of the study will provide a unique resource to inform quality improvement and strengthening of services for Aboriginal families.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-41
PMCID: PMC3689616  PMID: 23767813
Antenatal care; Health inequalities; Indigenous health; Maternal health; Participatory research; Perinatal health outcomes
13.  Aboriginal Health Workers experience multilevel barriers to quitting smoking: a qualitative study 
Introduction
Long-term measures to reduce tobacco consumption in Australia have had differential effects in the population. The prevalence of smoking in Aboriginal peoples is currently more than double that of the non-Aboriginal population. Aboriginal Health Workers are responsible for providing primary health care to Aboriginal clients including smoking cessation programs. However, Aboriginal Health Workers are frequently smokers themselves, and their smoking undermines the smoking cessation services they deliver to Aboriginal clients. An understanding of the barriers to quitting smoking experienced by Aboriginal Health Workers is needed to design culturally relevant smoking cessation programs. Once smoking is reduced in Aboriginal Health Workers, they may then be able to support Aboriginal clients to quit smoking.
Methods
We undertook a fundamental qualitative description study underpinned by social ecological theory. The research was participatory, and academic researchers worked in partnership with personnel from the local Aboriginal health council. The barriers Aboriginal Health Workers experience in relation to quitting smoking were explored in 34 semi-structured interviews (with 23 Aboriginal Health Workers and 11 other health staff) and 3 focus groups (n = 17 participants) with key informants. Content analysis was performed on transcribed text and interview notes.
Results
Aboriginal Health Workers spoke of burdensome stress and grief which made them unable to prioritise quitting smoking. They lacked knowledge about quitting and access to culturally relevant quitting resources. Interpersonal obstacles included a social pressure to smoke, social exclusion when quitting, and few role models. In many workplaces, smoking was part of organisational culture and there were challenges to implementation of Smokefree policy. Respondents identified inadequate funding of tobacco programs and a lack of Smokefree public spaces as policy level barriers. The normalisation of smoking in Aboriginal society was an overarching challenge to quitting.
Conclusions
Aboriginal Health Workers experience multilevel barriers to quitting smoking that include personal, social, cultural and environmental factors. Multidimensional smoking cessation programs are needed that reduce the stress and burden for Aboriginal Health Workers; provide access to culturally relevant quitting resources; and address the prevailing normalisation of smoking in the family, workplace and community.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-27
PMCID: PMC3477099  PMID: 22621767
Aboriginal people, Australia; Health care professionals; Tobacco and health; Smoking cessation; Qualitative research
14.  Immigrant women’s experiences of maternity-care services in Canada: a protocol for systematic review using a narrative synthesis 
Systematic Reviews  2012;1:27.
Background
Canada’s diverse society and statutory commitment to multiculturalism means that the synthesis of knowledge related to the health care experiences of immigrants is essential to realize the health potential for future Canadians. Although concerns about the maternity experiences of immigrants in Canada are relatively new, recent national guidelines explicitly call for tailoring of services to user needs. We are therefore assessing the experiences of immigrant women in Canada accessing maternity-care services. We are focusing on: 1) accessibility and acceptability (as an important dimension of access) to maternity-care services as perceived and experienced by immigrant women, and 2) the birth and postnatal outcomes of these women.
Methods
The aim of this study is to use a narrative synthesis, incorporating both a systematic review using narrative synthesis of reports of empirical research (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method designs), and a literature review of non-empirically based reports, both of which include ‘grey’ literature. The study aims to provide stakeholders with perspectives on maternity-care services as experienced by immigrant women. To achieve this, we are using integrated knowledge translation, partnering with key stakeholders to ensure topic relevancy and to tailor recommendations for effective translation into future policy and practice/programming. Two search phases and a three-stage selection process are being conducted (database search retrieved 1487 hits excluding duplicates) to provide evidence to contribute jointly to both the narrative synthesis and the non-empirical literature review. The narrative synthesis will be informed by the previous framework published in 2006 by Popay et al., using identified tools for each of its four elements. The non-empirical literature review will build upon the narrative-synthesis findings and/or identify omissions or gaps in the empirical research literature. The integrated knowledge translation plan will ensure that key messages are delivered in an audience-specific manner to optimize their effect on policy and practice change throughout the health service, and the public health, immigration and community sectors.
Discussion
Narrative-synthesis methods of systematic review facilitate understanding and acknowledgement of the broader influences of theoretical and contextual variables, such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and geographical location. They also enable understanding of the shaping of differences between reported outcomes and study designs related to childbearing populations, and the development and implementation of maternity services and health interventions across diverse settings.
PROSPERO registration
Number 2185.
doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-27
PMCID: PMC3433387  PMID: 22651573
Narrative synthesis; Immigrant women; Maternity-care experiences; Canada; Study protocol; Mixed research design review
15.  Treatment Issues for Aboriginal Mothers with Substance Use Problems and Their Children 
In many cultures, approximately one third of people with drug dependence are women of child-bearing age. Substance use among pregnant and parenting women is a major public health concern. Aboriginal people have some of the highest rates of substance abuse in Canada, increasing concern for detrimental health impacts, including those for women and their children. For many women, substance abuse offers a means of coping with trauma, such as childhood abuse, partner violence, and, for Aboriginal women, the intergenerational effects of colonization. In this paper, we review treatment issues for Aboriginal mothers with substance use problems and their children. We discuss gender-specific issues in substance abuse, the need for women-specific treatment, the impact of substance abuse on children and parenting, the additional risks for Aboriginal women and children, and the need for integrated programs (those that integrate pregnancy-, parenting-, and child-related services with women-specific addiction treatment). We describe New Choices as an example of an integrated program, review research on existing treatment for Aboriginal mothers with substance use issues, and describe Sheway as a promising integrated program for Aboriginal women with substance abuse issues and their young children. There are few treatment programs specifically for Aboriginal mothers with substance use issues and their children and very little research on their effectiveness. Based on our review of existing evidence, we offer recommendations for future research and practice.
doi:10.1007/s11469-009-9255-8
PMCID: PMC4071056  PMID: 24976814 CAMSID: cams3841
16.  Innovations on a shoestring: a study of a collaborative community-based Aboriginal mental health service model in rural Canada 
Background
Collaborative, culturally safe services that integrate clinical approaches with traditional Aboriginal healing have been hailed as promising approaches to ameliorate the high rates of mental health problems in Aboriginal communities in Canada. Overcoming significant financial and human resources barriers, a mental health team in northern Ontario is beginning to realize this ideal. We studied the strategies, strengths and challenges related to collaborative Aboriginal mental health care.
Methods
A participatory action research approach was employed to evaluate the Knaw Chi Ge Win services and their place in the broader mental health system. Qualitative methods were used as the primary source of data collection and included document review, ethnographic interviews with 15 providers and 23 clients; and 3 focus groups with community workers and managers.
Results
The Knaw Chi Ge Win model is an innovative, community-based Aboriginal mental health care model that has led to various improvements in care in a challenging rural, high needs environment. Formal opportunities to share information, shared protocols and ongoing education support this model of collaborative care. Positive outcomes associated with this model include improved quality of care, cultural safety, and integration of traditional Aboriginal healing with clinical approaches. Ongoing challenges include chronic lack of resources, health information and the still cursory understanding of Aboriginal healing and outcomes.
Conclusions
This model can serve to inform collaborative care in other rural and Indigenous mental health systems. Further research into traditional Aboriginal approaches to mental health is needed to continue advances in collaborative practice in a clinical setting.
doi:10.1186/1752-4458-3-27
PMCID: PMC2804693  PMID: 20017919
17.  A study of Iranian immigrants’ experiences of accessing Canadian health care services: a grounded theory 
Background
Immigration is not a new phenomenon but, rather, has deep roots in human history. Documents from every era detail individuals who left their homelands and struggled to reestablish their lives in other countries. The aim of this study was to explore and understand the experience of Iranian immigrants who accessed Canadian health care services. Research with immigrants is useful for learning about strategies that newcomers develop to access health care services.
Methods
The research question guiding this study was, “What are the processes by which Iranian immigrants learn to access health care services in Canada?” To answer the question, a constructivist grounded theory approach was applied. Initially, unstructured interviews were conducted with 17 participants (11 women and six men) who were adults (at least 18 years old) and had immigrated to Canada within the past 15 years. Eight participants took part in a second interview, and four participants took part in a third interview.
Results
Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, “tackling the stumbling blocks of access” emerged as the core category. The basic social process (BSP), becoming self-sufficient, was a transitional process and had five stages: becoming a stranger; feeling helpless; navigating/seeking information; employing strategies; and becoming integrated and self-sufficient. We found that “tackling the stumbling blocks of access” was the main struggle throughout this journey. Some of the immigrants were able to overcome these challenges and became proficient in accessing health care services, but others were unable to make the necessary changes and thus stayed in earlier stages/phases of transition, and sometimes returned to their country of origin.
Conclusion
During the course of this journey a substantive grounded theory was developed that revealed the challenges and issues confronted by this particular group of immigrants. This process explains why some Iranian immigrants are able to access Canadian health care effectively while others cannot. Many elements, including language proficiency, cultural differences, education, previous experiences, financial status, age, knowledge of the host country’s health care services, and insider and outsider resources work synergistically in helping immigrants to access health care services effectively and appropriately.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-55
PMCID: PMC3519565  PMID: 23021015
Immigrants; Refugees; Health care; Access; Iranians; Canada; Constructivist grounded theory
18.  Supporting aboriginal knowledge and practice in health care: lessons from a qualitative evaluation of the strong women, strong babies, strong culture program 
Background
The Strong Women, Strong Babies, Strong Culture Program (the Program) evolved from a recognition of the value of Aboriginal knowledge and practice in promoting maternal and child health (MCH) in remote communities of the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia. Commencing in 1993 it continues to operate today. In 2008, the NT Department of Health commissioned an evaluation to identify enabling factors and barriers to successful implementation of the Program, and to identify potential pathways for future development. In this paper we focus on the evaluation findings related specifically to the role of Aborignal cultural knowledge and practice within the Program.
Methods
A qualitative evaluation utilised purposive sampling to maximise diversity in program history and Aboriginal culture. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 76 participants were recorded in their preferred language with a registered Interpreter when required. Thematic analysis of data was verified or modified through further discussions with participants and members of the evaluation team.
Results
Although the importance of Aboriginal knowledge and practice as a fundamental component of the Program is widely acknowledged, there has been considerable variation across time and location in the extent to which these cultural dimensions have been included in practice. Factors contributing to this variation are complex and relate to a number of broad themes including: location of control over Program activities; recognition and respect for Aboriginal knowledge and practice as a legitimate component of health care; working in partnership; communication within and beyond the Program; access to transport and working space; and governance and organisational support.
Conclusions
We suggest that inclusion of Aboriginal knowledge and practice as a fundamental component of the Program is key to its survival over more than twenty years despite serious challenges. Respect for the legitimacy of Aboriginal knowledge and practice within health care, a high level of community participation and control supported through effective governance and sufficient organisational commitment as well as competence in intercultural collaborative practice of health staff are critical requirements for realising the potential for cultural knowledge and practice to improve Aboriginal health outcomes.
doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0433-3
PMCID: PMC4328040  PMID: 25652186
Maternal and child health; Indigenous health; Aboriginal culture; Intercultural health care
19.  Immigrant and non-immigrant women’s experiences of maternity care: a systematic and comparative review of studies in five countries 
Background
Understanding immigrant women’s experiences of maternity care is critical if receiving country care systems are to respond appropriately to increasing global migration. This systematic review aimed to compare what we know about immigrant and non-immigrant women’s experiences of maternity care.
Methods
Medline, CINAHL, Health Star, Embase and PsychInfo were searched for the period 1989–2012. First, we retrieved population-based studies of women’s experiences of maternity care (n = 12). For countries with identified population studies, studies focused specifically on immigrant women’s experiences of care were also retrieved (n = 22). For all included studies, we extracted available data on experiences of care and undertook a descriptive comparison.
Results
What immigrant and non-immigrant women want from maternity care proved similar: safe, high quality, attentive and individualised care, with adequate information and support. Immigrant women were less positive about their care than non-immigrant women. Communication problems and lack of familiarity with care systems impacted negatively on immigrant women’s experiences, as did perceptions of discrimination and care which was not kind or respectful.
Conclusion
Few differences were found in what immigrant and non-immigrant women want from maternity care. The challenge for health systems is to address the barriers immigrant women face by improving communication, increasing women’s understanding of care provision and reducing discrimination.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-152
PMCID: PMC4108006  PMID: 24773762
Maternity care; Immigrant women; Experiences of care; Communication
20.  An Electronic Clinical Decision Support Tool to Assist Primary Care Providers in Cardiovascular Disease Risk Management: Development and Mixed Methods Evaluation 
Background
Challenges remain in translating the well-established evidence for management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk into clinical practice. Although electronic clinical decision support (CDS) systems are known to improve practitioner performance, their development in Australian primary health care settings is limited.
Objectives
Study aims were to (1) develop a valid CDS tool that assists Australian general practitioners (GPs) in global CVD risk management, and (2) preliminarily evaluate its acceptability to GPs as a point-of-care resource for both general and underserved populations.
Methods
CVD risk estimation (based on Framingham algorithms) and risk-based management advice (using recommendations from six Australian guidelines) were programmed into a software package. Tool validation: Data from 137 patients attending a physician’s clinic were analyzed to compare the tool’s risk scores with those obtained from an independently programmed algorithm in a separate statistics package. The tool’s management advice was compared with a physician’s recommendations based on a manual review of the guidelines. Field test: The tool was then tested with 21 GPs from eight general practices and three Aboriginal Medical Services. Customized CDS-based recommendations were generated for 200 routinely attending patients (33% Aboriginal) using information extracted from the health record by a research assistant. GPs reviewed these recommendations during each consultation. Changes in CVD risk factor measurement and management were recorded. In-depth interviews with GPs were conducted.
Results
Validation testing: The tool’s risk assessment algorithm correlated very highly with the independently programmed version in the separate statistics package (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.999). For management advice, there were only two cases of disagreement between the tool and the physician. Field test: GPs found 77% (153/200) of patient outputs easy to understand and agreed with screening and prescribing recommendations in 72% and 64% of outputs, respectively; 26% of patients had their CVD risk factor history updated; 73% had at least one CVD risk factor measured or tests ordered. For people assessed at high CVD risk (n = 82), 10% and 9%, respectively, had lipid-lowering and BP-lowering medications commenced or dose adjustments made, while 7% newly commenced anti-platelet medications. Three key qualitative findings emerged: (1) GPs found the tool enabled a systematic approach to care; (2) the tool greatly influenced CVD risk communication; (3) successful implementation into routine care would require integration with practice software, minimal data entry, regular revision with updated guidelines, and a self-auditing feature. There were no substantive differences in study findings for Aboriginal Medical Services GPs, and the tool was generally considered appropriate for use with Aboriginal patients.
Conclusion
A fully-integrated, self-populating, and potentially Internet-based CDS tool could contribute to improved global CVD risk management in Australian primary health care. The findings from this study will inform a large-scale trial intervention.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1258
PMCID: PMC2802562  PMID: 20018588
Decision support systems; clinical; cardiovascular diseases; physicians, family; Aborigines, Australian
21.  Exploring the adequacy of smoking cessation support for pregnant and postpartum women 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:472.
Background
Smoking in pregnancy exemplifies the relationship between tobacco use and health inequalities. While difficulty reaching and engaging this population in cessation support is often highlighted in the literature, there is limited research that explores the factors that shape the provision and use of support by this subpopulation. Using Ontario, Canada, as a case study, this study examines how the use of cessation support by women is encouraged or discouraged by cessation policy, programming and practice; how geographical and sociocultural factors influence provision and uptake of support; and how barriers and challenges can be addressed through a comprehensive approach.
Methods
Semi-structured, in-depth interviews with key informants (31) and pregnant or postpartum women (29) were conducted to examine the cessation needs of this subpopulation, barriers to the provision and uptake of cessation support and directions for policy, service provision and programming.
Results
Key barriers included: the absence of a provincial cessation strategy and funding, capacity and engagement/accessibility issues. Geographical features presented additional challenges to provision/uptake, as did the absence of resources tailored to Aboriginal women and adolescents. Key informants recommended a comprehensive cessation strategy to facilitate coordination of cessation resources provincially and locally and elucidated the need for capacity building within tobacco control and within reproductive, child and maternal health. Participants also highlighted the need to further develop tobacco control policies and target the social determinants of health through poverty reduction, housing and education support. The provision of incentives, transportation, childcare and meals/snacks; adoption of woman-centred, harm-reduction and stigma reduction approaches; and promotion of programs through a variety of local venues were recommended by participants to address engagement and accessibility issues.
Conclusions
The current cessation system in Ontario is not equipped to adequately reduce smoking among pregnant and postpartum women. A comprehensive, multi-sector strategy designed to provide tailored and sustainable support through different system entry points is needed. A cultural shift in practice is also necessary to eliminate mixed messaging, strengthen practice and encourage open channels of communication about smoking between women and their providers. The study highlights the need to address smoking among women in a more holistic manner and for capacity building strategies that focus on strengthening providers’ competency and confidence in practice. Future research should explore: capacity building strategies, especially among rural and remote communities; the smoking and cessation experiences of different subpopulations of pregnant and postpartum women; the effectiveness of tailored strategies; and interventions that address smoking among partners and other family members.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-472
PMCID: PMC3658958  PMID: 23672201
22.  ‘Choice, culture and confidence’: key findings from the 2012 having a baby in Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey 
Background
To describe the maternity care experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women in Queensland, Australia and to identify areas for policy and practice improvements.
Methods
A culturally-tailored survey requesting both quantitative and qualitative information was completed by respondents either independently (online or in hard copy) or with the assistance of a trained peer-interviewer. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.
Eligible women were over 16 years of age, identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, resided in Queensland, and had a live, singleton birth between the first of July 2011 and the first of July 2012.
Results
187 women of 207 respondents were included in analyses. Women reported high rates of stressful life events in pregnancy, low levels of choice in place of birth and model of care and limited options to carry out cultural practices. High levels of confidence in parenting were also reported. Women were less likely to report being treated with kindness, understanding and respect by maternity care staff than women answering a similar mainstream survey.
Conclusions
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have additional needs to mainstream Australian women. This study identified a number of recommendations to improve services including the need to enhance the cultural competence of maternity services; increase access to continuity of midwifery care models, facilitate more choices in care, work with the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, families and communities, and engage women in the design and delivery of care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-196
PMCID: PMC4012088  PMID: 24884930
Birthing on country; Indigenous; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Maternity care
23.  Culturally Competent Service Provision Issues Experienced By Aboriginal People Living With HIV/AIDS 
Pimatisiwin  2008;6(2):155-180.
Cultural identity is an important factor in how well Aboriginal people respond to HIV/AIDS prevention or, once diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, how it affects their health care. This study explores the cultural skills among service providers who see Aboriginal people living with HIV/AIDS (APHAs) and the perspectives of APHAs. The purpose is to better understand the wellness needs of APHAs and how culturally competent care affects health service access and use. Data collection included face-to-face semi-structured interviews with APHAs and focus groups/interviews with community-based and primary health professionals in five regions of Canada. Interviews and focus groups were voice-recorded, verbatim transcribed, and coded using Atlas.ti® software. Thirty-five APHAs and fifty-two service providers were reached. Two key themes were noticed:
Active addictions are a major obstacle to adherence to HIV drug regimes. Half of APHA participants said addictions are a major factor. A similar portion noted intensified substance use was an initial coping strategy when diagnosed. A slightly smaller portion noted that addictions were dealt with soon after diagnosis in order to begin antiretroviral treatment. Service providers who inform, encourage, and support APHAs’ choices are viewed as “culturally competent.”Addictions and HIV must be “treated together,” reflecting a holistic worldview of Aboriginal people. Programs that integrate addiction treatment with HIV/AIDS and service providers who encourage and support APHA’s choices are viewed as “wise practice” models by both sets of study participants offering some convergence and a set of five wise practices are identified.
PMCID: PMC2936585  PMID: 20835301 CAMSID: cams1069
Aboriginal Peoples; HIV/AIDS; Cultural Competence; Addictions
24.  The Effectiveness of Emergency Obstetric Referral Interventions in Developing Country Settings: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001264.
In a systematic review of the literature, Julia Hussein and colleagues seek to determine the effect of referral interventions that enable emergency access to health facilities for pregnant women living in developing countries.
Background
Pregnancy complications can be unpredictable and many women in developing countries cannot access health facilities where life-saving care is available. This study assesses the effects of referral interventions that enable pregnant women to reach health facilities during an emergency, after the decision to seek care is made.
Methods and findings
Selected bibliographic databases were searched with no date or language restrictions. Randomised controlled trials and quasi experimental study designs with a comparison group were included. Outcomes of interest included maternal and neonatal mortality and other intermediate measures such as service utilisation. Two reviewers independently selected, appraised, and extracted articles using predefined fields. Forest plots, tables, and qualitative summaries of study quality, size, and direction of effect were used for analysis.
Nineteen studies were included. In South Asian settings, four studies of organisational interventions in communities that generated funds for transport reduced neonatal deaths, with the largest effect seen in India (odds ratio 0·48 95% CI 0·34–0·68). Three quasi experimental studies from sub-Saharan Africa reported reductions in stillbirths with maternity waiting home interventions, with one statistically significant result (OR 0.56 95% CI 0.32–0.96). Effects of interventions on maternal mortality were unclear. Referral interventions usually improved utilisation of health services but the opposite effect was also documented. The effects of multiple interventions in the studies could not be disentangled. Explanatory mechanisms through which the interventions worked could not be ascertained.
Conclusions
Community mobilisation interventions may reduce neonatal mortality but the contribution of referral components cannot be ascertained. The reduction in stillbirth rates resulting from maternity waiting homes needs further study. Referral interventions can have unexpected adverse effects. To inform the implementation of effective referral interventions, improved monitoring and evaluation practices are necessary, along with studies that develop better understanding of how interventions work.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. Almost all of these “maternal” deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 500 and a woman's life-time risk of dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 39. By contrast, the MMR in industrialized countries is 12 and women have a life-time risk of maternal death of 1 in 4,700. Most maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage (severe bleeding after childbirth), post-delivery infections, obstructed (difficult) labor, and blood pressure disorders during pregnancy, all of which are preventable or treatable conditions. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict which women will develop pregnancy complications, many complications rapidly become life-threatening and, in developing countries, women often deliver at home, far from emergency obstetric services; obstetrics deals with the care of women and their children during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period.
Why Was This Study Done?
It should be possible to reduce maternal deaths (and the deaths of babies during pregnancy, childbirth, and early life) in developing countries by ensuring that pregnant women are referred to emergency obstetric services quickly when the need arises. Unfortunately, in such countries referral to emergency obstetric care is beset with problems such as difficult geographical terrain, transport costs, lack of vehicles, and suboptimal location and distribution of health care facilities. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers assess the effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce the “phase II delay” in referral to emergency obstetric care in developing countries—the time it takes a woman to reach an appropriate health care facility once a problem has been recognized and the decision has been taken to seek care. Delays in diagnosis and the decision to seek care are phase I delays in referral, whereas delays in receiving care once a women reaches a health care facility are phase III delays.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 19 published studies that described 14 interventions designed to overcome phase II delays in emergency obstetric referral and that met their criteria for inclusion in their systematic review. About half of the interventions were organizational. That is, they were designed to overcome barriers to referral such as costs. Most of the remaining interventions were structural. That is, they involved the provision of, for example, ambulances and maternity waiting homes—placed close to a health care facility where women can stay during late pregnancy. Although seven studies provided data on maternal mortality, none showed a sustained, statistically significant reduction (a reduction unlikely to have occurred by chance) in maternal deaths. Four studies in South Asia in which communities generated funds for transport reduced neonatal deaths (deaths of babies soon after birth), but the only statistically significant effect of this community mobilization intervention was seen in India where neonatal deaths were halved. Three studies from sub-Saharan Africa reported that the introduction of maternity waiting homes reduced stillbirths but this reduction was only significant in one study. Finally, although referral interventions generally improved the utilization of health services, in one study the provision of bicycle ambulances to take women to the hospital reduced the proportion of women delivering in health facilities, probably because women felt that bicycle ambulances drew unwanted attention to them during labor and so preferred to stay at home.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that community mobilization interventions may reduce neonatal mortality and that maternity waiting rooms may reduce stillbirths. Importantly, they also highlight how referral interventions can have unexpected adverse effects. However, because the studies included in this systematic review included multiple interventions designed to reduce delays at several stages of the referral process, it is not possible to disentangle the contribution of each component of the intervention. Moreover, it is impossible at present to determine why (or even if) any of the interventions reduced maternal mortality. Thus, the researchers conclude, improved monitoring of interventions and better evaluation of outcomes is essential to inform the implementation of effective referral interventions, and more studies are needed to improve understanding of how referral interventions work.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001264.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) provides information on maternal mortality, including the WHO/UNICEF./UNFPA/World Bank 2008 country estimates of maternal mortality
The World Health Organization provides information on maternal health, including information about Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality (in several languages); the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000, are designed to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015
Immpact is a global research initiative for the evaluation of safe motherhood intervention strategies
Veil of Tears contains personal stories from Afghanistan about loss in childbirth; the non-governmental health development organization AMREF provides personal stories about maternal health in Africa
Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis is a briefing paper published by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in March 2012
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001264
PMCID: PMC3393680  PMID: 22807658
25.  Turtle Finding Fact Sheet: The Role of the Treatment Provider in Aboriginal Women’s Healing from Illicit Drug Abuse 
CES4Health.info  2010;http://www.ces4health.info/find-products/view-product.aspx?code=Z3KNXKHD.
Our research identifies key skills and traits for service providers working with Aboriginal women that assists them with re-claiming their cultural identity. The “Turtle Finding Fact Sheet: The Role of the Treatment Provider in Aboriginal Women’s Healing from Illicit Drug Abuse” was created to disseminate and commence discussion on this initial finding from our community-based research project in Canada. The study overall focussed on the role of identity and stigma in the healing journeys of criminalized Aboriginal women from illicit drug abuse. Our team is committed to sharing its finding with the community from which the information was collected–workers in the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP). The Fact Sheet is based on a sample of interviews with substance abuse treatment providers, and was verified with women in treatment and who have completed treatment. In recent years, the addictions literature has increased its attention toward the importance of the therapeutic alliance between treatment providers and clients(1), although understanding specific to Aboriginal women remains limited. Identity reclamation is central to women’s healing journeys and treatment providers have an influential role. This finding is framed in the fact sheet within the cultural understanding of the Seven Teachings of the Grandfathers(2). The fact sheet (8.5x11) has been distributed to the over 700 NNADAP workers, and is also available at no cost in two poster size formats. It is appropriate for anyone providing services to Aboriginal women requiring addictions treatment.
PMCID: PMC4085083  PMID: 25010607 CAMSID: cams3855

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