Intended for healthcare professionals


Review of research on aboriginal populations in Canada: relevance to their health needs

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 21 August 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:419
  1. T Kue Young, professor (kue.young{at}
  1. 1Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A8


    Objective To determine if research has adequately examined the health needs of the aboriginal population of Canada.

    Design Review.

    Study selection Medline search of journal articles published during 1992-2001. The search terms used were “Canada” and various synonyms and categories for Canadian aboriginal people. Each paper was categorised according to the aboriginal group, age-sex group, comparison group, geographic location, and type of research topic (health determinant, health status, or health care).

    Results Of 352 citations found, 254 were selected after elimination of those without abstracts, not containing data on Canada, or not focusing on health issues. The proportion of papers does not reflect the demographic composition of aboriginal people in Canada, with severe under-representation of Métis, urban aboriginal people, and First Nations people not living on reserves and over-representation of the Inuit. Children and women received less attention proportional to their share of the population. A few prolific research groups have generated a disproportionate amount of publications from a few communities and regions. 174 papers dealt with health determinants (for example, genetics, diet, and contaminants), 173 with health status, and 75 with health care. Injuries, which account for a third of all deaths, were studied in only 8 papers. None of the health care papers examined rehabilitation.

    Conclusion Researchers have not adequately examined several important health needs of the aboriginal population.


    • Contributors TKY is the sole author of this paper.

    • Funding No special funding.

    • Competing interests None declared.

    View Full Text