Methodological Considerations for Home-Visiting Research in Tribal Communities

Published in: Infant Mental Health Journal, Volume 39, Issue3 (May/June 2018), Pages 303-311. doi:10.1002/imhj.21709

Posted on RAND.org on June 29, 2018

by M. Rebecca Kilburn, Kate Lyon, Cyndi Anderson, Pamela Gutman, Nancy Rumbaugh Whitesell

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Research Question

  1. How have grantees of the Tribal MIECHV program designed studies that are both rigorous and valid in the context of their specific Native populations?

Drawing on previous studies and the collective experience of conducting rigorous evaluations as part of the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting grants, we outline methodological considerations that will inform future research in tribal communities, particularly in the area of home visiting. The methodological issues we discuss are study design choices, measurement and data collection, and including community members in all aspects of the research.

Key Findings

  • Tribal MIECHV grantees incorporated design decisions into their studies to address challenges such as small sample sizes, cultural norms, historical trauma from previous outside research practices, and lack of measures and models that have been validated in tribal contexts.
  • Considerations for successful evaluations include establishing trust and enthusiasm for participation by involving community members throughout the process, incorporating indigenous ways of knowing with Western scientific approaches, and being prepared to collect data in Native languages.
  • The innovative design decisions made by grantees advance scientific knowledge of tribal home visiting programs, as well as methods for conducting research in tribal communities.

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