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One Sky Center/OHSU. The Value of AI/AN Public Health Curriculum: Challenges and Future Direction. Larry Murillo, DrPH, MPH, MS Assistant Professor School of Medicine Oregon Health and Science University. One Sky Center/OHSU. Vision Statement.

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One Sky Center/OHSU

The Value of AI/AN Public Health Curriculum: Challenges and Future Direction

Larry Murillo, DrPH, MPH, MS

Assistant Professor

School of Medicine

Oregon Health and Science University

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Vision Statement

  • Develop AI/AN specific Public Health Curriculum to encourage community health resource development and access to THP. The long-term result will be stronger communities based on cultural values that promote a broader understanding of health.

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Increase Access to THP

  • Undergraduate and Graduate Curriculum

  • Educate community of THP Use

    • Describe current trend of traditional health practice use in AI clinics and health programs.

    • Describe THP epistemology used in health care setting

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Today’s situation: Why is THP and public health so important?

  • Educators see health as vital issue

  • Culture lends context to health

  • Medical system is failing to improve health

  • Healthcare costs are skyrocketing

  • Increased use of cultural health beliefs and practices

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One Sky Center/OHSU

How Did We Get Here?

  • American Indian Religious Freedom Act

  • THP is hidden part of community

  • AI/AN Professionals develop THP health models.

  • Clinics now openly use THP.

  • Health concerns – huge disparity

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One Sky Center/OHSU


  • Pluralistic System of Care*

    • Medical, Alternative, THP

  • Patients use both medical and THP services simultaneously.

    • 70% in urban populations**

  • Biomedicine addresses physical symptoms while THP addresses circumstances from which those symptoms arise.*

  • Different forms of care are seen as complementary and not in conflict.***

  • Gurley, D. et. Al. (2001)

  • **Buchwald, Beals and Manson (2000)

  • ***Csorda and Garrity, (1994)

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One Sky Center/OHSU

What Might AI/AN PH Curriculum Look Like?

  • Balance of three perspectives

    • Professional

    • Community

      • Group and individual

    • Traditional Health Practitioners Circle

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Does THP Work?

Role of Medicine Person

Science vs Cultural Med

Medical limits

Race, Religion and Medical Model

PubHlth Research

CA Culture Trends

Urban vs. Rural Health

IHS and PL 94-638

Cultural Community Based Health Models

US Policy and AI Health

Land Based Religion and Environmental Health

Cultural Models of Health

One Sky Center/OHSU

AI/AN Public Health Issues Course

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Challenges of THP Education

  • Medical Model is dominant

  • Average AI person is THP “expert”

    • Tension of being “out of loop”

  • THP stigma

    • Savage, Paganistic, Unscientific, Family remedy

  • Privacy/public sharing issue

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Levels of THP Practice

  • Common family knowledge

  • Practitioners and protocol

  • Spiritual Level

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Clinic THP Perception

  • Administration – Political Issue

  • Medical – Alternative Medicine Issue

  • Health Education

    • Prevention message

    • Community Intervention

  • Mental Health – Intervention Issue

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One Sky Center/OHSU


  • Have you ever been frustrated with college curriculum?

  • Did “multicultural” classes seem inadequate and too broad?

  • Have you ever taken a class specific to AI/AN that was not in the ethnic studies department?

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Research Strategy

  • Describe present use of THP in clinics

  • Develop ideas from epistemology of current programs.

  • Encourage community participation in defining and broadening THP programs

  • Create evaluation models of “Ideal” THP program

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One Sky Center/OHSU

Current Funding

  • Develop epistemology

    • Interview Longstanding THP Development Leaders

      • Community Participation – Phil Lane, Jr.

      • Cultural Competency – Terry Cross

      • Wellness conferences – Billy Rogers

      • Historical Trauma – Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart

      • Red Road Alcohol Treatment – Gene Thin Elk

      • Post-Colonial Psychology – Ed Duran

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Closing Thoughts

  • How long before we “define” our own health

  • Use our own beliefs and ideas

  • Acknowledge professionals and medicine people

  • Support existing ceremonies

  • Interpret our lives and learn from disease