Background: In Canada, Indigenous Peoples continue to experience persistent health inequities, resulting in disproportionately poorer health outcomes compared with non-Indigenous Canadians. This study engaged Indigenous patients accessing health care in Vancouver, Canada, about their experiences of racism and improving cultural safety within health care.
Methods: A research team consisting of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers committed to employing a Two-Eyed Seeing approach and conducting culturally safe research hosted 2 sharing circles in May 2019 with Indigenous people recruited from urban health care settings. Talking circles were led by Indigenous Elders, and thematic analysis was used to identify overarching themes.
Results: A total of 26 participants attended 2 sharing circles, which included 25 self-identifying women and 1 self-identifying man. Thematic analysis resulted in the identification of 2 major themes: negative experiences in health care and perspectives on promising health care practices. For the first major theme, subthemes included the following: experiences of racism lead to poorer care experiences and health outcomes, Indigenous-specific racism results in mistrust in the health care system, and participants experience discrediting of traditional medicine and Indigenous perspectives on health. For the second major theme, subthemes included the following: Indigenous-specific services and supports improve trust in health care, Indigenous cultural safety education is necessary for all health care-involved staff, and providing welcoming, Indigenized spaces for Indigenous patients encourages health care engagement.
Interpretation: Despite participants' racist health care experiences, receiving culturally safe care was credited with improving trust in the health care system and well-being. The continued expansion of Indigenous cultural safety education, the creation of welcoming spaces, recruitment of Indigenous staff, and Indigenous self-determination over health care services can improve Indigenous patients' health care experiences.
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