Traditionalism and its relationship to disease risk and protective behaviors of women living on the Hopi reservation

Kathryn Coe, Agnes Attakai, Mary Papenfuss, Anna Giuliano, Lorencita Martin, Leon Nuvayestewa

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    26 Scopus citations


    The fundamental aim of this study was to identify factors crucial for the development of effective cancer prevention programs for American Indian (AI) populations. Toward that end, we developed an instrument to assess the influence of traditionalism on health risks such as smoking, consumption, and obesity. A population-based survey was conducted among 559 randomly selected women living on the Hopi reservation aged 18 years and older, from July through December 1993. To construct a traditionalism score, we conducted focus groups in the community. A multidimensional approach was adopted by assessing three dimensions of native culture: language usage; cultural participation, or participation in such activities as Hopi ceremonies; and percentage of life spent off-reservation. A mean score of the three dimensions was computed for each respondent. High levels of traditionalism were significantly associated with disease protective behaviors, such as practicing traditional Hopi activities to keep healthy (OR = 3.07), and significantly inversely associated with disease risk factors such as smoking (OR = 0.26) and obesity (OR = 0.60) independent of age, marital status, and education. As these data provide a strong rationale for the promotion of traditions in public health programs aimed at decreasing rates of chronic disease among AI women, we conclude this paper with a discussion of the importance of traditionalism and how it might be accurately assessed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)391-410
    Number of pages20
    JournalHealth Care for Women International
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - May 1 2004

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health Professions(all)

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