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Unique new research centre to focus on nursing of indigenous peoples

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A native American tribal leader and nursing academic is to establish the world’s first centre to carry out research into standards of healthcare received by indigenous peoples.

Dr John Lowe, a Cherokee tribal member, one of only 20 native American nurses in the US who has a doctoral degree.

“It only makes sense that nurses act as the catalyst for research”

John Lowe

A leading advocate of better healthcare for Native Americans and indigenous populations, he has been made a professor in health disparities research at Florida State University’s nursing college.

He has been given the task of establishing the university’s Center for Indigenous Nursing Research for Health Equity — the first research centre of its kind worldwide.

The centre will partner with indigenous peoples, communities and organisations, nationally and internationally, in order to help “attain health equity”, said the university.

Dr Lowe, a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, has received funding from the National Institutes of Health for his work with native American substance abuse prevention, most recently to implement and evaluate an after-school substance abuse prevention intervention.

His Talking Circle intervention was subsequently recognised by the US Department of Justice as a promising evidence-based programme for the wellbeing of young people.

The planned centre will seek to help nurses influence the type of research that needs to be conducted in indigenous communities and raise awareness of the healthcare issues they face.

In addition to studying substance abuse interventions, the centre’s researchers will look at many issues facing these population groups such as obesity, diabetes and cardiac disease.

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous peoples living in more than 70 countries worldwide who continue to be among the world’s most marginalized population groups, noted Dr Lowe.

He said: “Nurses are at the forefront so they know the health issues affecting these populations.

“Nurses in indigenous communities all over the world are delivering most of the healthcare. It only makes sense that nurses act as the catalyst for research,” he said.

He added: “What we find within all indigenous, native or aboriginal populations throughout the world – who went through a colonisation experience – is they tend have similar health issues, and the prevalence of these health issues are usually higher than any other group or population in that geographical region.”

Judith McFetridge-Durdle, dean of the university’s nursing college, said: “Dr Lowe is an outstanding researcher and a passionate advocate for native American health.”

Gary Ostrander, the university’s vice president for research, added: “His unique research on the health issues affecting indigenous populations will greatly complement the existing work being done by the college to further our knowledge of health issues affecting our world.”

The American Nurses Association recently chose Dr Lowe as the winner of the 2016 Luther Christman Award, which recognises the contribution of an individual man to the nursing profession.

He received his undergraduate degree at Eastern Mennonite College in 1981 and completed a doctorate at the University of Miami in 1996.

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