Document Type



Between December 11 and 12, 1991, the Indian Health Service (IHS) sponsored a Roundtable Conference on dysfunctional behavior and its impact on American Indian (AI/AN) health. The meeting was oriented toward health policy rather than clinical. The panel consisted of professionals from family health, mental health, employment, counseling, substance abuse fields, clinicians, and academicians. The participants were provided data and a review of literature describing the human and financial costs to families affected by dysfunctional behavior of its members. The range of behaviors included alcoholism, chronic unemployment, mental illness, drug or inhalant abuse, promiscuity, child abuse, gambling and other addictions, self-destructive acts, violence in all forms and other criminal offenses. The roundtable participants developed statements reflecting consensus on issues related to dysfunctional behavior and its impacts on AI/AN health. First and foremost, the consensus was that IHS and other health providers must understand and value the resilience of healthy traditions and cultural strengths in the AI/AN communities. Attention should be given to functional aspects of AI/AN life. Eight statements were developed including: 1) creating a vision for health; 2) recognize the resiliency of families; 3) preserve cultural awareness; 4) create a healing environment; 5) advocate for a holistic approach in medicine; 6) recognize the need for orientation on culture, history and tribal government for epidemiology research; 7) recognize funding problems and sources; and 8) promote sharing and accessing health information.

Publication Date



Indian Health Service, Staff Office of Planning, Evaluation and Research, Rockville, MD 20857 (RT-07).