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In a recent editorial, Ring & Brown (2003) noted that although “indigenous populations differ in levels, patterns,and trends of health,” in developed nations, there are “unacceptably large differences between the health of indigenous and non-indigenous populations.” Bridging this gap requires a better understanding of the health and health care use of these populations, and providing this information to those who make evidence-based health decisions – policy makers, decision makers, planners, and educators of health care providers.
In Manitoba, population-based information helps create an accurate picture of health, the rates of illness, and the way in which people use health care services; this information helps planners meet the health needs of First Nations people.
The report highlighted in this lecture, The Health and Health Care Use of Registered First Nations People Living in Manitoba: A Population-Based Study represents a first attempt to provide such information. It is based on the entire population of the province of Manitoba; all other Manitobans serve as a comparison group to Registered First Nations people.
Although this research is Manitoba-specific and made possible because of the rich, population-based data available to us, the approaches, measures, and findings can be used to guide research elsewhere and inform a better understanding of health and health care among various population groups.