Formative Research and Cultural Tailoring of a Substance Abuse Prevention Program for American Indian Youth: Findings From the Intertribal Talking Circle Intervention

Julie A. Baldwin, John Lowe, Jada Brooks, Barbara K. Charbonneau-Dahlen, Gary Lawrence, Michelle Johnson-Jennings, Gary Padgett, Melessa Kelley, Carolyn Camplain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background. Substance use among American Indians (AIs) is a critical health issue and accounts for many health problems such as chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, behavioral health conditions, homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle accidents. In 2013, the highest rates of substance use and dependence were seen among AIs when compared to all other population groups, although these rates vary across different tribes. Among AI adolescents, high rates of substance use have been associated with environmental and historical factors, including poverty, historical trauma, bicultural stress, and changing tribal/familial roles. Our project, the Intertribal Talking Circle intervention, involved adapting, tailoring, implementing, and evaluating an existing intervention for AI youth of three tribal communities in the United States. Formative Results. Community partnership committees (CPCs) identified alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medications as high priority substances. CPC concerns focused on the increasing substance use in their communities and the corresponding negative impacts on families, stating a lack of coping skills, positive role models, and hope for the future as concerns for youth. Cultural Tailoring Process Results. Each site formed a CPC that culturally tailored the intervention for their tribal community. This included translating Keetoowah-Cherokee language, cultural practices, and symbolism into the local tribal customs for relevance. The CPCs were essential for incorporating local context and perceived concerns around AI adolescent substance use. These results may be helpful to other tribal communities developing/implementing substance use prevention interventions for AI youth. It is critical that Indigenous cultures and local context be factored into such programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-785
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Promotion Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Native American/American Indian
  • child/adolescent health
  • community intervention
  • community-based participatory research
  • cultural competence
  • formative evaluation
  • health disparities
  • health research
  • minority health
  • partnerships/coalitions
  • program planning and evaluation
  • substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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