Understanding Resilience and Mental Well-Being in Southwest Indigenous Nations and the Impact of COVID-19: Protocol for a Multimethods Study

Julie A. Baldwin, Angelica Alvarado, Karen Jarratt-Snider, Amanda Hunter, Chesleigh Keene, Angelina E. Castagno, Alisse Ali-Joseph, Juliette Roddy, Manley A. Begay, Darold H. Joseph, Carol Goldtooth, Carolyn Camplain, Melinda Smith, Kelly McCue, Andria B. Begay, Nicolette I. Teufel-Shone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite experiencing many adversities, American Indian and Alaska Native populations have demonstrated tremendous resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing upon Indigenous determinants of health (IDOH) and Indigenous Nation Building. Objective: Our multidisciplinary team undertook this study to achieve two aims: (1) to determine the role of IDOH in tribal government policy and action that supports Indigenous mental health and well-being and, in turn, resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and (2) to document the impact of IDOH on Indigenous mental health, well-being, and resilience of 4 community groups, specifically first responders, educators, traditional knowledge holders and practitioners, and members of the substance use recovery community, working in or near 3 Native nations in Arizona. Methods: To guide this study, we developed a conceptual framework based on IDOH, Indigenous Nation Building, and concepts of Indigenous mental well-being and resilience. The research process was guided by the Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, Ethics (CARE) principles for Indigenous Data Governance to honor tribal and data sovereignty. Data were collected through a multimethods research design, including interviews, talking circles, asset mapping, and coding of executive orders. Special attention was placed on the assets and culturally, socially, and geographically distinct features of each Native nation and the communities within them. Our study was unique in that our research team consisted predominantly of Indigenous scholars and community researchers representing at least 8 tribal communities and nations in the United States. The members of the team, regardless of whether they identified themselves as Indigenous or non-Indigenous, have many collective years of experience working with Indigenous Peoples, which ensures that the approach is culturally respectful and appropriate. Results: The number of participants enrolled in this study was 105 adults, with 92 individuals interviewed and 13 individuals engaged in 4 talking circles. Because of time constraints, the team elected to host talking circles with only 1 nation, with participants ranging from 2 to 6 in each group. Currently, we are in the process of conducting a qualitative analysis of the transcribed narratives from interviews, talking circles, and executive orders. These processes and outcomes will be described in future studies. Conclusions: This community-engaged study lays the groundwork for future studies addressing Indigenous mental health, well-being, and resilience. Findings from this study will be shared through presentations and publications with larger Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences, including local recovery groups, treatment centers, and individuals in recovery; K-12 and higher education educators and administrators; directors of first responder agencies; traditional medicine practitioners; and elected community leaders. The findings will also be used to produce well-being and resilience education materials, in-service training sessions, and future recommendations for stakeholder organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere44727
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
StatePublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Indigenous
  • Native nations
  • community-engaged research
  • resilience
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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