Prevention Science

, Volume 21, Supplement 1, pp 5–12 | Cite as

Promising Practices for Promoting Health Equity Through Rigorous Intervention Science with Indigenous Communities

  • Nancy Rumbaugh WhitesellEmail author
  • Alicia Mousseau
  • Myra Parker
  • Stacy Rasmus
  • James Allen


Research in indigenous communities is at the forefront of innovation currently influencing several new perspectives in engaged intervention science. This is innovation born of necessity, involving efforts to create health equity complicated by a history of distrust of research. Immense diversity across indigenous cultures, accompanied by variation in associated explanatory models, health beliefs, and health behaviors, along with divergent structural inequities add further complexity to this challenge. The aim of this Supplemental Issue on Promoting Health Equity through Rigorous, Culturally Informed Intervention Science: Innovations with Indigenous Populations in the United States is to highlight the promising new approaches and perspectives implemented by a group of engaged researchers and their community partners, as they seek to move intervention research forward within indigenous communities. Case studies presented are from projects led by members of the National Institutes of Health Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health (IRINAH) consortioum, investigators who conduct health promotion and disease prevention research among American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The promising practices profiled include new strategies in (a) community partnerships, engagement, and capacity building; (b) integration of indigenous and academic perspectives; (c) alignment of interventions with indigenous cultural values and practices; and (d) implementation and evaluation of multilevel interventions responsive to complex cultural contexts. The IRINAH projects illustrate the evolution of an intervention science responsive to the needs, realities, and promise of indigenous communities, with application to health research among other culturally distinct health inequity groups.


Indigenous populations Intervention research Health equity Community-based participatory research American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian 



National Institute on Drug Abuse, R01DA035111, Whitesell, PI.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, R01AA022068, Duran, PI, Parker, Co-I.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, R01AA023754, Rasmus & Allen, PI.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Not applicable; this paper provides an overview of other papers in this Supplemental Issue and does not report original research.

Informed Consent

Not applicable; this paper provides an overview of other papers in this Supplemental Issue and does not report original research.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Colorado School of Public HealthUniversity of Colorado Anschutz Medical CampusAuroraUSA
  2. 2.National Native Children’s Trauma CenterUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Center of Alaska Native Health ResearchUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  5. 5.Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health & Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team - American Indian and Rural Health EquityUniversity of Minnesota Medical School Duluth CampusDuluthUSA

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