Social Capital as a Determinant of Health in First Nations Communities

— John O'Neil and Cameron Mustard

Timeline: February 2001 - December 2002 (Completed)
Funding Amount: $154,331.00

What is this research Project about?

Social capital refers to the relationships, networks and norms in a community that, taken together, support collective action and strengthen the community. Examples of things that could contribute to social capital in a community include, participation in clubs, volunteering, sense of cohesion, shared beliefs and mutual trust. Research suggests that the concept of social capital is useful for improving our understanding of the health of population groups, including First Nations communities. This Project will develop culturally appropriate measures of social capital for First Nations communities to study the health of three First Nations communities in Manitoba.

How will this research be done?

The research will be carried out in two phases. In phase one, the concept of social capital will be examined and its relevance for First Nations communities will be explored through discussions between First Nations researchers and other members of their communities. In phase two, the results of these discussions will be used to establish specific measures of social capital for these First Nations communities and a questionnaire will be developed. Adult members of the communities will complete this questionnaire. The results of the questionnaire will be used to develop indicators of social capital and health in First Nations communities.

Why is this research important?

The measurement tools that will be developed from this Project may be relevant to other First Nations communities in Canada. The research is being carried out in partnership with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) via its Manitoba First Nations Health Information and Research (HIR) Committee. The results will partially address the AMC's goal to develop culturally-appropriate measures of social determinants of health for First Nations communities and will be widely circulated by the HIR committee and the research team. The social capital measurement tool will be relevant to several provincial and national studies on First Nations communities and health and will inform specific First Nations public policy initiatives.

John O'Neil
Centre for Aboriginal Health Research
Univeristy of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Man.


Cameron Mustard
Institute for Work and Health
Toronto, Ont.