Coast Salish Territory – The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has released the results of the most comprehensive First Nations health and wellness survey ever carried out in the province.
The First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS) is the only First Nations-led and governed, nationally-representative population health and wellness survey. This survey, the largest one to incorporate First Nations perspectives on health and wellness, asked about traditional wellness and community strengths in addition to health care access and chronic diseases.
The third phase of the RHS, conducted from 2015 to 2017, collected data from nearly 6,000 respondents from 122 communities. The FNHA heard from community members and regional leaders that they needed high-quality data that could inform evidence-based policy, programs and services. To meet this need, the FNHA funded an expansion of the survey that nearly doubled the number of participating First Nations communities and individuals compared to previous phases of the survey. Due to the expansion, the RHS results are being shared for the first time at the regional level, with one report for each of the five FNHA regions in addition to the provincial report. This fulfils the FNHA’s commitment to return community-generated information to support each region’s health and wellness planning.
“This takes the control out of the hands of institutions and gives it back to the people, which is really aligned with what we are trying to do as an organization,” said Sonia Isaac-Mann, Vice-President of Programs and Services at the FNHA.
The latest survey incorporated new questions that looked more closely at both the social determinants of health and the use of traditional healing practices. This helped to shift the focus away from looking at illness to a wellness-based approach.
“It is time we started looking at how well we are, what is protective, and how we resist poor health,” said Dr. Evan Adams, Chief Medical Officer for the FNHA. “What we do is related to how we’re doing. Time spent connecting to the land, and enjoying traditional diets and ceremonial practices continue to form the foundations of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being.”
The FNHA will now look to reassess priorities as a result of the survey findings. There is a clear preference for more support for traditional healing and wellness practices that build on First Nations knowledge, beliefs, values, practices, medicines and models of health and wellness.
What is next for the RHS?
In keeping with the principles of OCAP®, every First Nations community in BC received printed copies of the regional and provincial reports before the public release of the reports. The RHS team will share the results and gather feedback this fall at regional and community events across the province.
Are you interested in finding out more about how the RHS data can support your community or organization’s planning and decision-making? Contact us at RHS@FNHA.ca.
The FNHA has already committed to the fourth RHS and is planning to begin data collection in the fall of 2020.
By the Numbers:
• 5,739 province-wide participants
• 1,515 Children (0-11), 1,198 Youth (12-17), 1,509 Adults (18-54), 1,517 Older Adults (55+)
• 122 Communities
• 204 questions in 26 sections
• 48 data collectors trained from First Nations communities
o 70% of adults said they had often eaten traditional foods in the last year
o 43% of adults said they had used traditional medicine in the past year
o 82% of adults said their mental health was good, very good, or excellent
o 84% of adults said they felt a strong sense of belonging to their community
o Adults identified their top three determinants of good health as diet, sleep and social supports
o About 5% of the respondents under age 55 speak a traditional language to at least intermediate level
o 41% of adults and 13% of youth smoke tobacco, although rates have continued to decline
o 77% of adults participate in at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week