Research with American Indian and Alaska Native populations: Measurement matters

Melissa L. Walls, Nancy Rumbaugh Whitesell, Allison Barlow, Michelle Sarche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Research is an important tool in addressing myriad American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) health disparities; however, tensions exist between common empirical measurement approaches that facilitate cross-cultural comparisons and measurement specificity that may be more valid locally and/or culturally appropriate. The tremendous diversity of AIAN communities, small population sizes of distinct AIAN cultural groups, and varying cultural contexts and worldviews should influence measurement decisions in health research. We provide a framework for guiding measurement in collaboration with AIAN communities using examples from substance abuse research for illustration. Our goal is to build upon ongoing efforts to advance measurement validity for AIAN research by engaging community–researcher partnerships and critical thinking in the selection, adaptation, creation, and implementation of measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-149
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


  • American Indian
  • Native American
  • culture
  • measurement
  • research methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


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