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American Indian Research Program: Research

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research conducts research in accordance with recognized standards on American Indian research, including the Canadian Institute for Health Research Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aboriginal People. Current projects include:

American Indian Elder Health in California

California has the largest population of elderly American Indians of any state. The U.S. American Indian elderly population is projected to increase from 5.5% of the total American Indian population in1990 to 12.6% - or more than 200,000 elderly - in 2050. Yet no state-wide data currently exists on this vulnerable population. This project aims to increase the availability of health related data, and increase governmental and non-profit/foundation effort (tribal, federal, state and local) to address the health related needs of Native elders in California. Guided by a Native Elder Health Working Group the project will analyze a broad range of data to produce publications as well as unique community gatherings on major health issues that will enable service providers, health advocates, and policy makers to set priorities and allocate resources.

Funded by: The California Indian Health Service, The California Wellness Foundation, the UCLA Tribal Learning Community and Educational Exchange.

Related publication: Health of American Indian and Alaska Native Elders in California (June 2010)

Related publication: American Indian Elder Health: Critical Information for Researchers and Policymakers (January 2010)

Acknowledgements: Native Elder Health Working Group

Cost of Smoking 2010: The Health and Economic Costs of Smoking and Environmental Commercial Tobacco Smoke in California American Indian Communities Commercial tobacco disproportionately affects American Indian communities.

Available data on the health effects of commercial tobacco upon American Indian communities has yet to be updated in nearly a decade. This project aims to incorporate current health and population data into a guidebook that will educate and inform California tribes, tribal leaders, and community members about the untold negative consequences of commercial tobacco abuse. This research is critical to highlight disparities and needs for American Indians as well as costs to communities, and public health opportunities at local, state, and national levels.

Related publication: Costs of Smoking and Secondhand Smoke Exposure in California American Indian Communities (October 2010)

Related presentation: Cancer Among American Indians and Alaska Natives (February 2010)

Funded by: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a contract with the California Rural Indian Health Board.

System of Care Model (SCM) for American Indian Children

Few culturally and linguistically-appropriate mental health services exist for native peoples. This project will implement a System of Care Model (SCM) for delivering mental health services to urban American Indian children (ages 0-21) in Los Angeles County who have a serious emotional disturbance. The overall goal of the project is to strengthen culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services for the American Indian community, drawing upon the feedback of patients, family members and health care providers. The Center leads the project's evaluation and serves as research methodologists.

Funded by:

The United American Indian Involvement, Inc. (UAII) through a grant from the Child Mental Health Initiative from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


Redhawk Suicide Prevention Project

American Indian youth have the highest rates of suicide in the nation. This project is aimed at developing and implementing a youth suicide early intervention program to serve American Indian children and youth in California. The Center is evaluating the project and providing guidance in project methods.

Funded by:

The Los Angeles United American Indian Involvement, Inc. through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


Veteran's Administration and Indian Health Service: Access for American Indian Veterans

American Indian veterans are eligible for health care through both the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS). Despite this dual eligibility, American Indian veterans have significantly more unmet medical needs than other veterans. The purpose of this project was to improve access to equitable and efficient health care for American Indian veterans through coordination between the VA and the IHS. The project also aimed to clarify the extent of dual use and how these two federal agencies work together. Immediate objectives included: a) Describing dual utilization of VA and IHS services among American Indian veterans, including fragmentation or potential overlap of services; b) Identifying organizational and individual factors that impede or facilitate access to care; c) Generate explicit policy or practice recommendations to improve how VA and IHS work together, including care coordination. Staff from the Center's American Indian Research Program served as collaborating partners, providing cultural liaison activities and scientific expertise.

Related publication: Dual Use of Veterans Health Administration and Indian Health Service: Healthcare Provider and Patient Perspectives (April 2009, Journal of General Internal Medicine)

Funded by: The U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs' Health Services Research and Development Service.

American Indian Breast Cancer Prevention: "Turning Knowledge into Action!"

This study partnered with the Center's Health DATA project and provided tribes, tribal and urban Indian organizations, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) user-friendly breast cancer information and supported local level breast health infrastructure. The aims were to: a) Examine breast cancer epidemiologic data, for urban and rural American Indian and NHOPI; and b) Implement and evaluate free three-day training workshops with ongoing technical assistance, tailored to the American Indian and NHOPI communities. The workshops were held in partnership with local tribes and urban programs and covered five areas: 1) Introduction to Health Data, 2) Performing Community-based Needs Assessment, 3) On-line Internet based data query systems, 4) Communications, including Social Marketing and Media Advocacy.

Funded by:

The Susan G. Komen Foundation.

HIV Behavioral Surveillance in Native Americans in Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County has the largest population of American Indians in the United States. Yet little is known about this population in relation to HIV. The purpose of this project was to improve upon the United States National HIV Behavioral Surveillance program through a special outreach to urban American Indians in Los Angeles County. The NHBS-AI/AN collected, for the first time, detailed HIV behavioral risk data from an adequate sample of American Indians high-risk sub-populations. The study objectives were to estimate the prevalence of, and trends in, sexual and drug-use risk behaviors associated with HIV infection. The survey also estimated demographic, social, and behavioral correlates of HIV infection; examined the prevalence of, and trends in, HIV testing behaviors and utilization of other HIV prevention services; and characterized prevention service gaps and missed opportunities for HIV prevention. HIV testing was not conducted during this special surveillance cycle. The Center provided scientific consultation on this project.

Funded by:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a contract with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

Diabetes Among American Indians and Alaska Natives in California: "Prevention is Key"

This study examined diabetes prevalence, co-morbidities of diabetes, health insurance status, and access to care for American Indians and s (American Indians) in California and offers policy recommendations in response to these findings.

Funded by:

The California Endowment.

Related publication: Diabetes Among American Indians and Alaska Natives in California: Prevention is the Key

American Indian and Health Status and Access to Care

This project examined health status and access to care in California, concentrating on cancer and comparing two subgroups: American Indians who reside in California but who are members of tribes with reservations located both within and outside the state of California. It also tested innovative ideas for an effective and scientifically rigorous virtual research group composed of Native scientists. For further information please read our research article titled, "American Indians and s in California: Women's Cancer Screening and Results," in The Journal of Cancer Education (Vol. 20, No. N).

Funded by:
The US Department of Health and Human Services and the National Cancer Institute and Office of Women's Health.

Related publications:

Home and Community-based Care Resources for Tribal Organizations

This project developed, published, and disseminated a series of state-specific guides to Medicaid funding for home- and community-based long-term care services for the elderly.

Funded by:

The Indian Health Service

Related publication: Medicaid Home Care for Tribal Health Services: A Tool Kit for Developing New Programs

Culturally Competent Prevention and Control of Asthma for American Indians

A literature review conducted to identify culturally competent asthma prevention literature.

Funded by:

The UCLA Institute of American Cultures.

Related publication: Culturally Competent Prevention and Control of Asthma for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Improving Health Insurance Coverage for American Indian Children and Families

This study examined the policy and implementation barriers to obtaining Healthy Families (California's SCHIP) coverage for American Indian children, with a focus on the federal no-cost sharing waiver for native children.

Funded by:

The University of California Policy Research Center.

Related publication: Improving Health Insurance Coverage for American Indian Children and Families under Healthy Families (SCHIP)

Los Angeles Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey - Special Study of American Indians

The American Indian Research Program participated in a community-driven research study, with specific responsibilities for the research methods, the health insurance access and utilization data sections of the study, and the injury data section. To obtain a copy of the report please contact Dr. Rose Weahkee at

Funded by:

The United American Indian Involvement, Inc. through a grant from the Indian Health Service.