Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Native Health Surveyed

According to an article appearing in the “Mukluk Telegraph”, the Alaska Native people understand the health needs and the research that the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) should focus on. ANTHC’s Division of Community Health Services (DCHS) in a recent survey asked tribal leaders what they think are the top health research priorities. “It was part of a national Indian Country wide effort to define what the health research priorities are among American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said DCHS Director Tim Gilbert.

The 50 Alaska tribal health leaders who were surveyed tended to agree that cancer concerns easily top the lists. Among those concerns are screening and early identification, treatment, rural access, and causes and prevention.

Following cancer concerns, the other top health research priorities are chronic disease management especially diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, prevention referring to tobacco and drug use, suicide, and domestic violence. Behavioral health issues such as substance abuse and mental health, elder care and oral health are also high on the list.

According to Gilbert, ANTHC has very good research capacity especially when compared to other tribal organizations in the lower 48. However, recent staff turnover has taken place and this has led to examining the research department’s organization and how to streamline efforts.

As a result, ANTHC has reorganized its research team into the Clinical and Research Service Department. Janet M. Johnson, former Senior Epidemiologist with the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center is ANTHC’s new Health Research Director. Johnson said “the goal is to not only conduct research that counts but also to conduct research on what our doctors and nurses need to know and what the people say they need.

Results from the health priorities survey will be available at