Background. A wealth of data highlights the health disparities and barriers to health care experienced by Aboriginal women and children when compared to non-Aboriginal women and children. The first thousand days time period, from conception to the age of two, is an opportunity for health professionals to positively impact the health of Aboriginal children with effects lasting into adulthood. Cultural safety has been reported to improve access to health care for Aboriginal Canadians, but little is known about the significance of cultural safety from the perspective of Aboriginal women during the first thousand days.
Methodology. An interpretive descriptive design and a postcolonial perspective guided this study. In-depth interviews were conducted with six Aboriginal women at a community health centre located in the inner-city of Regina, Saskatchewan, between June and July of 2015. Data was analyzed using principles of interpretive description to determine themes.
Findings. Culturally safe and unsafe care was experienced during the first thousand days. Three themes common to participants included: the importance of being able to trust that they are safe when accessing health care, the overwhelming impact of poverty on their ability to achieve or maintain good health, and finally, the experience of worry related to the first thousand days including the worry about being worthy of respectful, culturally safe treatment by all employed in health environments.
Discussion. The perception of culturally safe care was significant in affecting access to health care for this group of participants. Findings of this study suggest that more attention needs to be paid to the development of trust in health care encounters, and future research could explore the concept of trust for Aboriginal peoples. Emphasis on awareness of the social determinants of health, including colonialism and racism, should be included in educational programming for health professionals locally.||en_US