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EcoHealth Research with Indigenous Communities

Ellen McDonald’s Poster at GDS 2014

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The burden of Acute Gastrointestinal Illness (AGI) for Inuit in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

Background: Acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) is an important global public health issue. The prevalence and risk factors related to AGI are unknown among Canadian Inuit and it is possible given their unique social, economic, and cultural conditions, these may differ compared with other Canadians. Objectives: This study (1) estimated the prevalence of AGI, and (2) identified risk factors for AGI for Inuit in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Methods: International burden of illness study methods were modified to reflect the Indigenous culture and Northern context of this study. Specifically, an EcoHealth framework was used to guide the research, which included principles of capacity development, transdisciplinarity, social equity, sustainability, and community participation. Two retrospective, cross-sectional surveys were conducted in Iqaluit in 2012 and 2013. Of the 1,055 individuals that participated in the survey, 694 self-identified as Aboriginal, which formed the basis of analysis. The prevalence of self-reported AGI was estimated using a case definition of diarrhea and/or vomiting in the past 14-days not due to pregnancy, drug or alcohol use, or diagnosed chronic conditions. Multivariable exact logistic regression was used to identify risk factors associated with AGI cases. Results: The 14-day prevalence of AGI for Inuit in Iqaluit was 12.8% in 2012 and 11.6% in 2013. Several, demographic, environmental and socio-economic factors were significantly associated with increased odds of AGI. Conclusions: Estimating the prevalence of AGI and identifying Inuit-specific risk factors for AGI, with continued Northern stakeholders’ collaboration was intended inform and strengthen evidence-based policy to reduce the impact of AGI in Inuit populations. These results will be used to co-develop and co-implement a knowledge translation project with Northern project stakeholders and community members toward enhancing AGI-related public health decision-making processes in Nunavut, Canada.

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