Access issues for Aboriginal people seeking primary care services in an urban centre

Access to primary care is problematic for large numbers of Aboriginal people in BC and other parts of Canada. Because of these difficulties, many Aboriginal people rely on hospital emergency departments for health care. Since emergency departments are not designed to provide comprehensive primary care, there are concerns about health outcomes and continuity of care for patients who rely on them. To plan effective, responsive services, more must be known about the ongoing use of the emergency department for health concerns that could potentially be addressed elsewhere. Dr. Annette Browne and a team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers are exploring the factors and social contexts that influence access to primary care from the perspective of Aboriginal patients who seek care at the emergency department. Learning from the perspectives of Aboriginal peoples will be critical to the design of accessible, culturally safe, primary care services. Dr. Browne is also examining how interactions between Aboriginal patients and health professionals affect decisions about where to seek care. Findings from this research will be discussed with leaders in Aboriginal health, policy makers and health care planners to improve access to effective health care services involving Aboriginal peoples.