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Cultural continuity and Inuit health in Arctic Canada
  1. Sarah Lynn Newell1,
  2. Michelle L Dion2,
  3. Nancy C Doubleday3
  1. 1 Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Political Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Philosophy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Lynn Newell, McMaster University DeGroote School of Business, Hamilton ON L8S 4E8, Canada; newells{at}


Background Previous research association increased levels of cultural continuity and decreased rates of youth suicide in First Nations communities. We investigate the relationship between cultural continuity and self-rated health looking specifically at Inuit living in the Canadian Arctic.

Methods The Arctic Supplements of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey from years 2001 and 2006 were appended to explore the relationship between various measures of cultural continuity and self-rated health. These measures include access to government services in an Aboriginal language, Inuit cultural variables, community involvement and governance. Literature related to Inuit social determinants of health and health-related behaviours were used to build the models.

Results All measures of cultural continuity were shown to have a positive association with self-rated health for Inuit participants. Background and other control variables influenced the strength of the association but not the direction of the association. Access to services in an Aboriginal language, harvesting activities and government satisfaction were all significantly related to the odds of better health outcomes. Finally, the study contributes a baseline from a known data horizon against which future studies can assess changes and understand future impacts of changes.

Conclusion The Canadian government and other agencies should address health inequalities between Inuit and non-Inuit people through programmes designed to foster cultural continuity at a community level. Providing access to services in an Aboriginal language is a superficial way of promoting cultural alignment of these services; however, more inclusion of Inuit traditional knowledge is needed to have a positive influence on health.

  • health policy
  • health behaviour
  • lifestyle
  • self-rated health
  • social activities

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  • Contributors SLN contributed substantially to the conception, design, analysis and interpretation of the data, drafting and approval of this version, and being accountable for this work. MLD contributed substantially to the design and interpretation of the work, drafting and approval of this version, and being accountable for this work. NCD contributed substantially to the conception of the work, drafting and approval of this version, and being accountable for this work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.