Inuit women's health in Nunavut, Canada: a review of the literature

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2007 Jun;66(3):199-214. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v66i3.18256.


Objectives: Inuit women face challenging health and wellness issues in Northern communities. Literature examining these contexts and the processes through which health is affected is virtually non-existent. The objective [corrected] of this review is to examine and consolidate the available literature on Inuit women's health issues from the last decade in order to identify priorities for future research.

Study design: This study is a review of literature from the last decade. Inuit women's health issues that have been raised in the literature and in various reports are examined within a health-determinants framework.

Methods: Government reports and statistics, publications by Inuit organizations and publications available on MEDLINE were examined for this review.

Results: Inuit women's health is a crucial part of the health of their communities. Inuit women face serious health issues related to reproductive and sexual health, such as high rates of sexually transmitted infections and challenging circumstances surrounding childbirth. Wellness, suicide and stress are more significant issues for Inuit women compared with non-Inuit women. Food security and accessibility is an issue for all Northerners. Alcohol and substance abuse and exposure to violent situations endanger both the health and safety of Inuit women in many Northern communities.

Conclusions: There exists an urgent need to better understand the mechanisms through which determinants of health affect Inuit women. As well as adding to the body of knowledge on health determinants in Canada, further examining these issues will provide valuable information for health policy decision-makers and program development in the North and facilitate the direction of resources to the necessary areas of health services provision in Nunavut.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arctic Regions
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inuits*
  • Women's Health / ethnology*