Who We Fund
A Journey With You: Indigenous Peer Navigation in Saskatchewan Cancer Care
Dr. Gary Groot
Community Health and Epidemiology
University of Saskatchewan
2018-2019 Establishment Grants
DescriptionThe physical symptoms combined with the emotional distress of a cancer diagnosis can make the cancer-care journey difficult for patients and their families. For many Indigenous people in Saskatchewan, the burden of cancer is amplified by a host of systemic, cultural and personal challenges and barriers. Cancer rates are rising faster in Canadian Indigenous communities compared to the general population. Poor survival and screening rates, and later-stage diagnoses have resulted in cancer becoming the leading cause of death in some Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan. Indigenous cancer patients may find themselves traversing an increasingly complex and fragmented health care system with great difficulty. Dr. Groot's ongoing research, informed by Indigenous Elders and community-based partners, calls for specialized support that addresses these logistical, institutional, and cultural safety challenges. This study will pilot an Indigenous Patient Navigator in a Saskatchewan context and attempts to gain a deeper understanding of the unique health experiences and barriers facing Indigenous people with cancer. Using a methodological approach based in realist philosophy that takes into account the importance of patient trust and worldview in engaging in a shared decision-making process with health care providers, this study will follow 30 Indigenous cancer patients accompanied by an Indigenous Patient Navigator as they journey through Saskatchewan's cancer care system from first diagnosis to return home. Using qualitative interviews and mobile-app based questionnaires, we hope to gain a clearer picture of how Indigenous Navigators might improve patient understanding thus removing some of the obstacles patients face in accessing and receiving care.