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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The phone is my lifeline : impact of the Cedar Project WelTel mHealth program for HIV treatment and prevention among young Indigenous people who have used drugs Jongbloed, Kate

Abstract

Indigenous scholars have called for responses to substance use and HIV among young Indigenous people that acknowledge ongoing colonization, structural violence, and the impacts of intergenerational traumas, while building on cultural strengths and resilience. This mixed method dissertation took place within The Cedar Project cohort involving young Indigenous people who have used drugs in Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia (BC). The purpose was to examine experiences of engagement with the HIV cascade of care, and evaluate The Cedar Project WelTel mHealth program for HIV-related health and wellness, among young Indigenous people who have used drugs living in British Columbia, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Findings support understanding of how a wholistic perspective of health and wellbeing, as well as experiences of ongoing colonial violence including child apprehension, inform engagement with the HIV cascade of care among Indigenous peoples. Results add to mounting evidence that state-based apprehensions of Indigenous children are a negative determinant of health for Indigenous families. Findings further illustrated how mobile phones can be a tool to support family (re)connections, relationships with health and social services, and self-determination within young Indigenous people who have used drugs’ health and wellness journeys. Moreover, this dissertation demonstrates that a supportive two-way texting mHealth initiative integrated into existing wraparound care from trusted case managers is acceptable and valued by young Indigenous people who have used drugs. Study findings provide evidence that the Cedar Project WelTel mHealth program may be an effective approach to support engagement in HIV care for young Indigenous people who have used drugs, and should be considered for application in other program settings as well. Four overarching recommendations for policy makers and health providers were developed in collaboration with Cedar mentors, committee members, and investigators: (1) uphold a wholistic perspective to walk with young Indigenous people who have used drugs on their health and wellness journeys; (2) urgently address ongoing apprehensions of Indigenous children; (3) offer the Cedar Project WelTel mHealth model for HIV health and wellness; and (4) explore integrating mHealth with healing modalities for substance use and other aspects of wholistic health and wellness.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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