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Unmasking health determinants and health outcomes for urban First Nations using respondent-driven sampling


Objective — Population-based health information on urban Aboriginal populations in Canada is limited due to challenges with the identification of Aboriginal persons in existing health data sets. The main objective of the Our Health Counts (OHC) project was to work in partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders to generate a culturally relevant, representative baseline health data set for three urban Aboriginal communities in Ontario, Canada.

Design — Respondent-driven sampling (RDS).

Setting — Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Participants — The OHC study, in partnership with the De dwa da dehs ney >s Aboriginal Health Access Centre (DAHC), recruited 554 First Nations adults living in Hamilton using RDS.

Results — Among First Nations adults living in Hamilton, 78% earned less than $20 000 per year and 70% lived in the lowest income quartile neighbourhoods. Mobility and crowded living conditions were also highly prevalent. Common chronic diseases included arthritis, hypertension, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and rates of emergency room access were elevated.

Conclusions — RDS is an effective sampling method in urban Aboriginal contexts as it builds on existing social networks and successfully identified a population-based cohort. The findings illustrate striking disparities in health determinants and health outcomes between urban First Nations individuals and the general population which have important implications for health services delivery, programming and policy development.



Firestone M, Smylie J, Maracle S, Spiller M, O'Campo P. BMJ Open. 2014; 4(7):e004978. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

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