Science & Research

Dr. Judith Bartlett

BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012

Although the Métis are an integral part of Manitoba's history, they have largely been invisible when it comes to their health and well-being. That's not to say they haven't received basic health care, says Dr. Judith Bartlett, a Métis physician and associate professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine, and adjunct scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP). But the Métis haven't been the focus of any substantial health research in Manitoba. That is until Bartlett and other researchers at MCHP, Manitoba Health, and the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) came together to produce a comprehensive health study that is also uniquely Métis.

The Profile of Métis Health Status and Healthcare Utilization in Manitoba: A Population-based Study features health data from approximately 93,000 Métis and looks at 80 different areas of health. Among other things, the study shows health care for Métis people could be much better. "If you look at premature mortality, Métis are 21 percent higher (than the general population), so they're dying too soon," she says.

But Bartlett wasn't satisfied with crunching numbers. "There's not much point in that document if it's going to sit on a shelf," she says. The data needs to be explained, and that's where the Métis became involved. Bartlett's MMF team set out to develop Knowledge Network discussion tables involving Métis people and the health-care system across the province to illustrate the data with meaningful stories about the Métis people's economic, social and political situations. They also wanted to learn how chronic diseases like diabetes were affecting their health and well-being. "You've got the data, which is one piece. Then you've got the experience of the citizens, the regional health authorities and MMF community services. It gives a really full picture," she says.

The study - referred to as the Métis Health Atlas - is just a start. Now, Bartlett and other stakeholders are using Knowledge Networks to help address the Métis people's health needs.

"The goal for Métis is to contribute to the health system's understanding of Métis health," she says. "Everything that's done is a win-win type of approach"

Wave: November / December 2012

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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