Introduction: The provision of complete, effective, and culturally sensitive health care to First Nations communities requires a familiarity with and respect for patients' healing beliefs and practices.
Purpose: This study addresses one aspect of cross-cultural care by attempting to understand the use of Mi'kmaq medicine among patients at a community health centre and their attitudes toward both Mi'kmaq and Western medicine.
Methods: A questionnaire was completed by 100 patients (14 men, 86 women) at the clinic. The majority (66%) of respondents had used Mi'kmaq medicine, and 92.4% of these respondents had not discussed this with their physician. Of those who had used Mi'kmaq medicine, 24.3% use it as first-line treatment when they are ill, and 31.8% believe that Mi'kmaq medicine is better overall than Western. Even among patients who have not used Mi'kmaq medicine, 5.9% believe that it is more effective than Western medicine in treating illness.
Conclusion: These results have implications for the delivery of health care to First Nations patients, especially in terms of understanding patients' health care values and in meeting the need to provide effective cross-cultural care.