American Indians (Als) have succeeded in the face of adversity. Yet their successes and paths of resilience largely have been ignored by public health and health research communities. The goal of this Exploratory Center of Excellence, namely The Center for American Indian Resilience (CAIR) is to reduce health disparities by identifying, assessing, applying and teaching models of resilience associated with positive health outcomes in American Indians (Als). This effort will build upon existing community-academic partnerships and expand the capacity and competence of Northern Arizona University (NAU), University of Arizona (UA) and Dine College (Navajo Nation Tribal College) independently and collectively to conduct resilience health sciences research that addresses health disparities. CAIR research activities will deepen our scientific knowledge of resilience and health. CAIR community engagement and training activities will translate this knowledge from research to practice to transform public health education, practice and policy.
Specific aims of CAIR are to: 1) Provide the administrative structure, coordination and resources for a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional team to collectively advance resilience research, education and application for the purpose of reducing health disparities specifically in Als;2) Use a community-based participatory research approach (CBPR) to identify, assess, translate and apply models of resilience associated with positive health outcomes in Als;3) Use a summer research enhancement program that provides intensive research coursework and field experiences, graduate research assistantships and seminars to guide and cultivate the exploration and application of resilience models among predominantly Al undergraduate and graduate students at NAU, UA and Dine College;and 4) Leverage existing and new tribal and institutional partnerships to establish an advisory board with expertise in community-based Al public health practice to build local capacity to integrate evidence-based models of resilience in 9-12 science education, health promotion practice and health policy.
Als suffer disproportionately from diabetes, substance abuse, unintentional injury/motor vehicle accidents and suicide. Applying a deficient approach to health challenges discourages Al students and communities and leaves Al populations conflicted about health research. CAIR's engagement of sustained parterships, skills in CBPR and assets based strategy offers an innovative approach to health disparities research.