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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding the social determinants of substance use among pregnant-involved young Aboriginal women : a mixed methods research project Shahram, Sana


There is a lack of research exploring the social, political and historical contexts of substance use during pregnancy among young Aboriginal women. Although Aboriginal women have been hyper-visible in policies and programming for substance use during pregnancy in Canada, there remains a dearth of information about Aboriginal women’s experiences with substance use and pregnancy in the published literature. In order to understand the social determinants of substance use during pregnancy from the perspective of young Aboriginal women themselves, a convergent mixed methods research project was conducted. The research project included a secondary data analysis (N=291), life history interviews (N=24), and an innovative pilot participant-generated mapping exercise called CIRCLES (Charting Intersectional Relationships in the Context of Life Experiences with Substances) developed by the author (N=17). The research project’s findings were integrated to inform the creation of a new wellness-focused model of the social determinants of substance use among pregnant-involved young Aboriginal women. The new model identifies several points of intervention for supporting women’s strengths, resilience and the maintenance of the mother-child unit to promote wellness among women. Further research is needed to test this new model among larger populations, and to identify specific resiliency factors to support Aboriginal mothers and their children.

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