Jan 12, 2023

Rachel VanEvery receives CCYC Research Poster Award

Rachel VanEvery

Rachel VanEvery, PhD Candidate in the Department of Health, Aging and Society at McMaster University, has received the “research category award” for her poster at the Canadian Children, Youth and Communities (CCYC) Health In | Equity Conference on December 6. She and her team provide a summary of her poster presentation.

Pain research involving Indigenous youth in Canada is an important step to identifying how health care providers can be more responsive to their needs, such as focusing more time on building relationships and establishing trust, linking youth with supports to help navigate community resources, and considering issues such as poverty when developing care plans. Building on the research co-led by Dr. Margot Latimer and Mi’qmaq health and education partners Sharon Rudderham and John Sylliboy of the Aboriginal Children’s Hurt and Healing (ACHH) initiative originating in Mi’kma’ki Nova Scotia, Rachel VanEvery led a community engaged research project with Angela Naveau at De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. The aim of this study is to understand how Indigenous youth describe, experience, and manage pain and hurt. The research team hopes to learn from the voices of Indigenous youth to mobilize Indigenous knowledge, and create culturally appropriate communication and treatment strategies for health care providers.

Rachel VanEvery

Engaging with community partners was central to this research project. A pre-study community engagement session and re-engagement session with local youth, Elders, and clinicians took place at the health centre with the Indigenous community partner to collaboratively design study goals, outcomes, and knowledge dissemination strategies following the Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) principles.

To date, the research team has published the qualitative results of this study in the Frontiers in Pain Research journal (see VanEvery et al. 2022). Using the medicine wheel framework three main thematic areas emerged from the perspectives of Indigenous youth, elders, and clinicians in this study, including 1) predictors of imbalance; 2) indicators of imbalance; and 3) strategies to re-establish balance in relation to pain. The main strategy includes considerations for clinicians to follow, known as the acronym LISTEN (Language, Individual, Share, Teachable moments, Engage, and Navigate), to improve clinical experiences for Indigenous youth. The LISTEN approach validates the lived experience of Indigenous youth and fosters engagement in the clinical setting. Currently, the research team is analyzing Electronic Medical Records from three health centres affiliated with De dwa dah dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health centre with the goal of publishing and sharing these results with community and academic stakeholders.

View her poster presentation here.

Question: What is new and exciting about your work? 

Answer: The project has resulted in the development of an introductory health cultural safety course required for Dalhousie University medical, pharmacy, nursing, dental hygiene and dentistry students.

The ACHH team has also created a pain app to assist Indigenous youth communicate both emotional and physical pain and hurt to their health clinician (see here). This initiative has also piloted in one First Nations community in eastern Canada with a plan to create a community-based Integrative Hurt and Healing Health Centre.

You can learn more about the ACHH Initiative and their work with Indigenous communities on their website