Projects & Programs


Sacred Journey 1: Young Native Women’s Wellness Study

Young Native Women’s Wellness Study – Sacred Journey

Although great diversity exists among American Indian (AI) women, AI women as a group are at potentially high risk of HIV/STIs due to adverse socio-demographic conditions, relatively high rates of substance use and lifetime trauma. There is a pressing need to understand social network and community factors associated with these intersecting risks. To develop culturally relevant and effective health interventions, there is a significant need for tribally-driven empirical research that explores health and wellness among young AI women. In collaboration with a rural tribally-based community coalition, this acceptability and feasibility study will provide formative information that will lead to greater understanding of the social complexity and intersecting risk of substance use, trauma and HIV/STI among this vulnerable population.


  1. conduct a qualitative study to: 1a) Explore knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and experiences related to sexual behavior, substance use (injecting illicit drugs, excessive drinking), traumatic stressors, and community and cultural protective factors; 1b) Conduct social mapping with community leaders to identify HIV/STI and substance use risk and protective venues and spaces; 1c) Use ‘intervention mapping’ to indentify and design culturally appropriate intervention components to reduce substance use, new STI infections, ongoing or new traumatic episodes, and high-risk sexual behaviors.
  2. Develop and pretest survey measures among 60 AI women to: 2a) Estimate preliminary prevalence rates of HIV/STIs, traumatic stressors, substance use and sexual risk behaviors; 2b) Test the direct associations among cultural coping factors, substance use, traumatic stressors, sexual and social networks and sexual health outcomes; 2c) Identify risk and protective factors within social networks; 2d) Establish preliminary psychometric properties of survey items and scales.
  3. Assess the feasibility of social network data collection. Aim4. Apply for a NIDA R34 PA-09-146 to pilot a culturally appropriate preventive intervention that attends to reduction in a) substance use, b) new STI infections c) ongoing or new traumatic episodes, d) high-risk sexual behaviors.