Traditional perspectives on child and family health

Donald Warne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


First Nations and American Indian communities experience significant health disparities compared with the general populations of Canada and the United States. Children from these communities experience higher rates of infant mortality, suicide and unintentional injury. From a traditional Lakota perspective, many of the health disparities faced in Aboriginal communities are linked to imbalances in the family and community. These imbalances can lead to detrimental behaviours, including substance abuse, alcoholism and domestic violence. The Medicine Wheel is a traditional symbol that can be used to attain a better understanding of these imbalances and how they relate to family and child health. However, significant differences exist between the perspectives of modern medical science and traditional cultures. To promote wellness and to prevent morbidity and mortality in a culturally appropriate way, current efforts need to focus attention on traditional cultural values and perspectives that incorporate the balance of the community and the health of the family. Traditionally, we understood that the health of the family and community has a significant impact on the health of children. To more effectively promote health and to prevent imbalance, children from these communities need to understand traditional values and to feel that they are an important link between traditional culture and future generations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-544
Number of pages3
JournalPaediatrics and Child Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • First Nations
  • Health disparities
  • Lakota
  • Medicine Wheel
  • Traditional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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