UTILIZATION OF MEDICAL CARE BY SASKATCHEWAN INDIANS NORTH BATTLE FORD AREA A COMPARATIVE STUDY
Martens, Ethel G.
This study compares the utilization of health services by treaty Indians on eight reserves with that by non-Indians in the surrounding region. Comparisons are also made of the utilization of the services by groups within the Indian population with different levels of social organization. It is the first study of this type made in Canada for an Indian population. The health utilization data were collected by the household survey method, using instruments of study that had been developed for the World Health Organization International Collaborative Study on Medical Care Utilization. The data on utilization with respect to social organization within the Indian population were according to a sociological status index developed by the author of this study. A unique feature of the survey was the use of Indian women as interviewers. The study region was one where Indians theoretically had equal access to the offered health services as the non-Indians. Both the Indian and non-Indian populations lived in a rural setting surrounding one main economic and cultural centre. Even though most, if not all, of the basic costs of the services are paid under the Medical Care insurance plans, significant differences in their utilization by the two populations were discovered. With the exception of hospitals, all services were used to a lesser degree by the Indians. Status within the Indian population affected both their attitudes toward and their use of health services. Persons in higher status levels showed a greater tendency to use the services and a lower tendency to play the sick role. The results indicate that the higher the status of the head of the household and the more organized the leadership within an Indian community the more the individuals manifest the attitudes and actions toward health services of the non-Indian population in the surrounding areas. Implications of the findings with respect to improving communication between the providers of health care services and the Indians are discussed briefly.