Stress-coping Among Aboriginal Individuals with Diabetes in an Urban Canadian City: From Woundedness to Resilience

// // Posted in Vol 3 Issue 1

Yoshitaka Iwasaki, PhD, Department of Therapeutic Recreation, College of Health Professions,Temple University

Judith Bartlett,MD, MSc, Centre for Aboriginal Health Research,Department of Community Health Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba


The purpose of this study was to reveal lay people’s views about lived experiences, and meanings of stress and coping with stress among Aboriginal participants with diabetes (n = 26) in an urban Canadian city. A framework of resilience was used not only to conceptually ground the study, but also to analytically synthesize its findings. Grounded in a qualitative framework, focus groups were used as the data collection technique, while phenomenology was adopted as an analytical approach. As a key element of woundedness, the study showed that stress is prevalent and plays a significant role in the lives of many participants.Not only are their experiences of stress healthrelated (specifically, diabetes-related) issues, but their descriptions also suggested that the sources of stress originate from broader structural systems and dynamics at various intertwined levels—socio-economic, cultural, historical, and political. On the other hand, the results indicated that the culturally appropriate use of human strengths and resilience is considered a core meaning of stress-coping among study participants.The key specific factors identified in facilitating this stress-coping process include: using collective strengths, gaining strengths through spirituality, cultivating cultural identity, using personal/individual aspects of strengths, and making positive transformations in culturally meaningful ways.The findings underscore that failing to take into account cultural contexts unique to a particular group will lead to a serious oversight in recognizing both individual and collective aspects, which are essential to a broader and more culturally appropriate conceptualization of the resilience framework.

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