Socio-cultural integration and holistic health among Indigenous young adults

Melissa Walls, Dane Hautala, Ashley Cole, Lucas Kosobuski, Nicole Weiss, Kyle Hill, Stephanie Ozhaawashkodewe’iganiikwe Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Research on associations between social integration and wellbeing holds promise to inform policy and practice targets for health promotion. Yet, studies of social connection too frequently rely on overly simplistic measures and give inadequate attention to manifestation and meanings of social integration across diverse groups. We use the term socio-cultural integration to describe expanded assessment of both social and cultural aspects of belonging and connection. Methods: We examined 7 distinct indicators of socio-cultural integration, identified heterogeneous patterns of responses across these indicators using latent profile analysis, and determined their relevance for wellbeing using survey data from a study with Indigenous communities in the U.S. and Canada. Wellbeing was measured using holistic ratings of self-rated physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Results: Latent profile analysis (LPA) of responses to the 7 socio-cultural integration variables yielded a 3-class model, which we labeled low, moderate, and high integration. Mean scores on self-rated physical, mental and spiritual health were significantly associated with LPA profiles, such that those in the low integration group had the lowest self-rated health scores and those in the high integration group had the highest health scores. With the exception of similar ratings of cultural identification between low and moderate integration profiles, patterns of responses to the diverse socio-cultural integration measures varied significantly across the 3 latent profiles. Conclusions: Results underscore the importance of expanding our assessment of social integration with attention to the interrelationships of family, community, culture, and our environment. Such concepts align with Indigenous conceptions of wellbeing, and have relevance for health across cultures. More concretely, the indicators of socio-cultural integration used in this study (e.g., cultural identity, having a sense of connectedness to nature or family, giving or receiving social support) represent malleable targets for inclusion in health promotion initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1002
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • American Indian
  • First Nations
  • Indigenous
  • Social integration
  • Social support
  • Socio-cultural integration
  • Wellbeing


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