Women-Centered and Culturally Responsive Heart Health Promotion Among Indigenous Women in Canada

Health Promot Pract. 2016 Nov;17(6):814-826. doi: 10.1177/1524839916633238. Epub 2016 Apr 6.


Most women in Canada confront a combination of bio-psychosocial factors that put them at risk for cardiovascular disease. The challenge for health planners is to address these factors while contextualizing interventions that meet the specific needs of particular social and cultural groupings. The article will discuss a women-centered, group-based heart health pilot initiative designed to engage with indigenous approaches to healing. The nurse practitioners co-led the group with a representative from the indigenous community to balance women-centered practices with more traditional and culturally appropriate ones. In particular, indigenous processes, such as a Talking Circle, combined with indigenous knowledge/content were integrated into the pilot program. The project was evaluated to investigate its outcomes (how the intervention impacted the participants) and processes (how participants perceived the intervention). Evaluation involved analysis of the Talking Circle's content, a focus group, field observations, and self-completed surveys. Most women made changes regarding their diet, some began physical activities, and others focused on better managing their emotional health. Women viewed the group as successful because it embraced both women-centered and culturally appropriate health promotion practices. The intervention created a culturally safe space for learning and transformation. The findings confirm the need for employing culturally relevant, gender-specific approaches to heart health promotion that are situated in and responsive to community needs.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; community intervention; community-based participatory research; evaluation methods; health promotion; minority health; women’s health.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Diet
  • Emotions
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners / organization & administration
  • Program Evaluation
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women's Health*