First Nations women's encounters with mainstream health care services

West J Nurs Res. 2001 Mar;23(2):126-47. doi: 10.1177/019394590102300203.


Health care encounters are important areas for study because they reflect social, political, economic, and ideological relations between patients and the dominant health care system. This study examines mainstream health care encounters from the viewpoint of First Nations women from a reserve community in northwestern Canada. Perspectives from critical medical anthropology and the concept of cultural safety provided the theoretical orientation for the study. Critical and feminist ethnographic approaches were used to guide in-depth interviews conducted with 10 First Nations women. Findings were organized around two broad themes that characterized women's descriptions of "invalidating" and "affirming" encounters. These narratives revealed that women's encounters were shaped by racism, discrimination, and structural inequities that continue to marginalize and disadvantage First Nations women. The women's health care experiences have historical, political, and economic significance and are reflective of wider postcolonial relations that shape their everyday lives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Stereotyping
  • Women's Health Services / standards*