Global Medicine| Volume 167, ISSUE 3, P661-667, March 2020

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What do indigenous communities want from their surgeons and surgical services: A systematic review

Published:October 22, 2019DOI:



      This investigation was undertaken to define the factors determining the optimal and most productive relationship among indigenous communities, surgeons, and providers of surgical services.


      A systematic literature review was conducted to identify studies reporting on the experience of indigenous communities with surgeons, medical practitioners, and the providers of surgical and other health services. The databases searched were MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, Web of Science, and Google Scholar, including all literature available until the search date of April 3, 2019. The reference lists of all included articles and related review articles were searched manually to identify further relevant studies. An inductive approach was used to identify common themes.


      Thirty-three publications discussed the experiences of New Zealand Māori (n = 2), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (n = 20), North American First Nation (n = 10), and Indigenous Latin Americans (n = 1). Across all indigenous peoples, 6 themes emerged: accessible health services, community participation and community governance, continuous quality improvement, a culturally appropriate and clinically skilled workforce, a flexible approach to care, and holistic healthcare.


      To provide medical and surgical services in indigenous communities successfully requires a diverse range of skills and core technical and academic competencies. Many skills lie within the definition of professionalism and advocacy as well as the ability to undertake and operationalize community consultation and empowerment. If surgical services serving Indigenous communities are to be successful in addressing health disparity, specific training in these skills will need to be developed and made available.
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