Multilevel and Community-Level Interventions with Native Americans: Challenges and Opportunities

Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, Elizabeth J. D’Amico, Bonnie Duran, Dedra Buchwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Multilevel and community-level interventions that target the social determinants of health and ultimately health disparities are seldom conducted in Native American communities. To contextualize the importance of multilevel and community-level interventions, major contributors to and causes of health disparities in Native communities are highlighted. Among the many documented socioeconomic factors influencing health are poverty, low educational attainment, and lack of insurance. Well-recognized health disparities include obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Selected challenges of implementing community-level and multilevel interventions in Native communities are summarized such as the shortage of high-quality population health data and validated measurement tools. To address the lack of multilevel and community-level interventions, the National Institutes of Health created the Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health (IRINAH) program which solicits proposals that develop, adapt, and test strategies to address these challenges and create interventions appropriate for Native populations. A discussion of the strategies that four of the IRINAH grantees are implementing underscores the importance of community-based participatory policy work, the development of new partnerships, and reconnection with cultural traditions. Based on the work of the nearly 20 IRINAH grantees, ameliorating the complex social determinants of health disparities among Native people will require (1) support for community-level and multilevel interventions that examine contemporary and historical factors that shape current conditions; (2) sustainability plans; (3) forefronting the most challenging issues; (4) financial resources and time to collaborate with tribal leaders; and (5) a solid evidence base.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-73
JournalPrevention Science
Issue numberSuppl 1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Community-based participatory research
  • Health disparities
  • Indigenous
  • Multilevel, community-level interventions
  • Native American


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