Doctoral Project

Access to care barriers for Native American veterans

There are very few studies that examine Native American Veterans and access to care issues. Therefore, the researchers implemented an exploratory, descriptive, qualitative project to explore and identify the potential barriers that Native American Veterans have experienced with access to healthcare and participation in veteran benefit programs. A purposeful sample consisted of 14 Native veterans from the American Indian Veteran Association who were eligible for veteran services, and were willing to participate in the project. Fieldwork was performed in the natural environment of the Sierra Nevada foothills on the ancestral homeland of a California Tribe. The facilitator utilized a demographic survey and observation to assess the dynamics of the group, to view the interactions between the participants and the environment, and to recognize nonverbal clues through body language and behavior. Through semi-structured focus group sessions or "talking circles", the American Indian Veteran participants provided data that produced 14 themes of rich and meaningful descriptions, and identified 28 access to care barriers. The participants offered up creative and viable solutions to reduce these barriers that may be of significant value to the Native American communities across the United States by satisfying a crucial need in bridging the access to care gap.