Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International (APRCi)

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Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives



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Purpose: To determine the volume and focus of articles on four chronic diseases in newspapers targeting First Nations, Me ́tis, and Inuit in Canada. Methods: From a sampling frame of 31 Aboriginal newspapers published in English from 1996–2000, 14 newspapers were randomly selected allowing for national and regional representation. Newspaper archives were searched at the National Library of Canada and articles selected if the disease terms cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS appeared in the headline, or in the first or last paragraph of the article. Articles were coded for inclusion of mobilizing information (local, distant, unrestricted, not specified, none) and content focus (scientific, human interest, com- mercial, other). Cancer articles were categorized by tumor site specificity. Data were analyzed by frequency, cross tabulations, and chi-square analysis.

Results: Of 400 chronic disease articles, there were significantly more articles on HIV/AIDS (167 or 41.8%) and diabetes (135 or 33.8%) and few articles on cancer (56 or 14%) and cardiovascular disease (30 articles or 7.5%) (p < 0.001). Slightly more than one third (36.5%) of the articles contained mobilizing information to en- able readers to take further health action. Mobilizing information was virtually absent from cardiovascular (7/30 or 23%) and diabetes (29/135 or 21.5%) articles. Site specific cancer coverage differed significantly from chance (p<0.001) with 41% of the articles on breast cancer and no articles on lung or colorectal cancers. Interpretation: Given the burden of tobacco-related cardiovascular disease and cancer in Canadian Aboriginal people, the lack of coverage and limited mobilizing information in ethnic newspapers are a missed opportunity for health promotion.

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