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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Marylou Mylant


health and hygiene of Dakota Indians, health attitudes of South Dakota, health behavior of South Dakota


Health perceptions and care practices have important implications for nursing, given the role of the nurse in providing holistic, culturally congruent care. The fundamental emphasis of nursing on understanding and treating human responses to health and illness lends itself to a concern for culture. Individual health beliefs are complex and are influenced by culture. The purpose of this study was to explore the definition of health from the perspective of selected Native American men and women living off the reservation through identification of their health beliefs and practices. A descriptive qualitative research design was utilized to describe broad holistic life forces influencing health perceptions and health practices within this population.
Leininger's theory of culture care diversity and universality was used as the supportive framework for this study. A descriptive qualitative study was conducted using semi-structured in-depth interviews. A purposive sample of 12 Native American men and women over the age of 50 living off the reservation were interviewed in their homes or setting of their choice. This study confirmed that for this sample of adult Native American men and women, perceptions of health and care practices are deeply rooted in the past and are affected daily by multiple consequences. The detailed responses generated from this study of the sample population in their naturalistic setting has provided valuable knowledge and understanding of the complex interactions between culture and modern life. Health and illness causation, personal health practices, and caring practices were common themes generated as this sample described their definitions of health, health perceptions, discussed their culture and other factors that impacted their health, and related traditional and home remedies as part of their care practices. Discoveries made in this study demonstrate that health is not a simple phenomenon, but holds a myriad of contextual factors. This small study is merely a first step in the study of health perceptions and care practices of Lakota men and women living off the reservation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dakota Indians -- Health and hygiene -- South Dakota
Health attitudes -- South Dakota
Health behavior -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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