BMJ Open 4:e004978 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-004978
  • Public health
    • Research

Unmasking health determinants and health outcomes for urban First Nations using respondent-driven sampling

  1. P O'Campo2
  1. 1Centre for Research on Inner City Health (CRICH), St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Centre for Research on Inner City Health (CRICH), St. Michael's Hospital and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Department of Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr M Firestone; firestonem{at}
  • Received 31 January 2014
  • Revised 12 June 2014
  • Accepted 13 June 2014
  • Published 9 July 2014


Objective Population-based health information on urban Aboriginal populations in Canada is limited due to challenges with the identification of Aboriginal persons in existing health data sets. The main objective of the Our Health Counts (OHC) project was to work in partnership with Aboriginal stakeholders to generate a culturally relevant, representative baseline health data set for three urban Aboriginal communities in Ontario, Canada.

Design Respondent-driven sampling (RDS).

Setting Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Participants The OHC study, in partnership with the De dwa da dehs ney >s Aboriginal Health Access Centre (DAHC), recruited 554 First Nations adults living in Hamilton using RDS.

Results Among First Nations adults living in Hamilton, 78% earned less than $20 000 per year and 70% lived in the lowest income quartile neighbourhoods. Mobility and crowded living conditions were also highly prevalent. Common chronic diseases included arthritis, hypertension, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and rates of emergency room access were elevated.

Conclusions RDS is an effective sampling method in urban Aboriginal contexts as it builds on existing social networks and successfully identified a population-based cohort. The findings illustrate striking disparities in health determinants and health outcomes between urban First Nations individuals and the general population which have important implications for health services delivery, programming and policy development.

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