Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Wayne Warry




Cultural differences between Native patients and non-Native health practitioners lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication in the clinical milieu. This applied anthropology study provides information which can lessen this problem. It is an investigation health perceptions, as described by a diverse group of Native people living in Hamilton, Ontario.

Four major themes emerged from open-ended questions covering a wide range of health topics. The first is the meaning which informants attribute to health, and how this contrasts with the traditional view and that expressed by non-Native people. The second is the role of a identity in creating and maintaining good health. The third is people's experience with mainstreams health care practitioners and, in some cases, with traditional healers, and how differing styles of communication and guidance impinge on health promotion. The final theme involves people's feelings about freedom and control, and notes how the course of history as well as Native ethics affect their perception of "personal control". Some alternative ways to conceptualize health promotion strategies are offered. I also suggest a link between individual health, community well-being and community self-determination.

The study combines elements of interpretive and critical anthropology and psychological theory with descriptive data derived from questionnaires and unstructured interviews. I conclude with suggestions as to how the health of this population could be optimized by three approaches - that offered by mainstream health care providers , by Native community organizations, and by the society itself.

McMaster University Library

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