UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Voices from an aboriginal diabetes awareness, prevention and teaching program Eskes, Jennifer


The socio-economic and political inequities stemming from colonialism have adversely affected the health of Canadian Aboriginal people. In particular, type 2 diabetes affects these populations in disproportionately high rates. As a result, there have been calls for policy-makers, program designers and practitioners to create culturally appropriate health education programming. However, few programs have been successful. It has been argued that this is because traditional approaches to diabetes education programming do not address the unique history and lived experiences of Aboriginal people. This project explored the experiences of participants, staff, facilitators and stakeholders with an Aboriginal Diabetes Awareness Prevention and Teaching Program (ADAPT) located in a major Western Canadian city. A total of 14 people were interviewed. The primary goals were to identify how the program activities and messaging were perceived, understood and acted upon by participants; to describe how the staff and facilitators envisioned their roles with the program; and to gain insight into how ADAPT fit with the lives of participants. Critical theoretical perspectives, and in particular, postcolonial theory served as the primary paradigm for this project. Data analysis was guided by interpretive description. Program participants’ that were interviewed for this project described their experiences within two main themes: building relationships and building knowledge. Staff, facilitators and stakeholder’s experiences also centered around two main themes: building relationships with participants and facilitating change. ADAPT participants, staff, facilitators and stakeholders all described the program as a place that recognizes the impacts of that colonialism has had on people’s lives and health. The program was seen as a safe and supportive place to build relationships with others and to learn about diabetes. The findings of this project can help to inform the design of Aboriginal-focused diabetes education programs.

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