Tales about tuberculosis and colonization: the socio-cultural experience of tuberculosis in Nunavut

Alaska Med. 2007;49(2 Suppl):179-83.


Objective: To examine how Inuit in Nunavut experience and make meaning of TB, its history, protocols and regimes, and how this and the effects of historical and continuing colonization in Nunavut influence current levels of TB in Nunavut.

Design and methods: The study was qualitative, conducted through seven months of fieldwork in two Nunavut communities utilising ethnographic methods including 42 taped interviews, casual conversations, participant observation and document review.

Results: Inuit participants include explanations other than biomedical when making meaning of TB, and health and disease generally. Also, Inuit participants express a preference for methods of health education different from those presently employed. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, this study suggests that the history of colonization and continuing colonization play a significant role in how some Inuit experience TB, other disease, and health, and in the high incidence of TB in Nunavut.

Conclusion: In order to decrease incidence of TB and increase levels of health in Nunavut decolonizing measures are necessary.

MeSH terms

  • Culture*
  • Demography
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Nunavut / epidemiology
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Population Groups*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control
  • Tuberculosis / transmission