A Toolkit for Ethical and Culturally Sensitive Research: An Application with Indigenous Communities

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By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Given the complex historical context of research with indigenous communities, there is an ethical imperative to ensure cultural sensitivity in research with these populations. Despite this need, there is a lack of practical guidance based on empirical results to conduct culturally sensitive research. The purpose of this qualitative inquiry is twofold. First, Part 1 identifies strategies for culturally sensitive research with indigenous communities in the USA. Second, Part 2 applies culturally sensitive strategies to a specific research setting with an indigenous community. Part 1 uses a qualitative descriptive study with 13 indigenous and non-indigenous researchers to identify strategies for cultural sensitivity in research. Part 2 applies identified strategies to a rigorous critical ethnography with indigenous communities. Emergent themes from Part 1 include the impact of history, relational research, incorporating cultural sensitivity and strengths, demonstrating patience, and negotiating multiple perspectives. These themes inform a researcher’s toolkit for cultural sensitivity, which is applied to a localized setting in Part 2. Cultural sensitivity enhances the quality and usefulness of research, which is better able to address the pressing problems experienced by some indigenous communities.

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