Frequently Asked Questions
What is the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS)?
The RHS is a national health survey that is fully directed and controlled by First Nations. It is longitudinal in nature gathers information about health, wellness, health determinants, and about the concerns and issues of First Nations living in First Nations communities across Canada.
The RHS first went into the field in 1997 in 7 regions. Afterwards, the survey expanded to include all regions as well as adopting a longitudinal design; the result was RHS Phase 1 (2002/03).
Currently, the RHS National Office and it Regional partners are preparing for RHS Phase 2 (2007/08).
In the past, large numbers of First Nations people living on reserve were excluded from major national health surveys such as the National Population Health Survey (NHPS). Other surveys, which attempted to obtain on-reserve data, did not reach enough communities, and thus, were unable to produce valid statistics at the national or regional level.
Essentially, there was an vast information void. For example, it was impossible to accurately answer basic questions such as: how many First Nations have diabetes or what is the relationship between First Nations education and disease prevalence. These pieces of information are crucial to drive effective and responsive program and policy development and ultimately, to improve the health of First Nations.
The RHS has corrected this information deficiency.
Who administers the RHS?
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chiefs Committee on Health (CCOH) appointed the First Nations Information Governance Committee (FNIGC) to provide oversight and governance over the administration of the RHS.
The RHS National Team, currently located at the AFN in Ottawa, handles the day to day activities of the RHS. This includes maintaining the databases, reporting on national results, and planning for subsequent rounds of the RHS.
Over the past few years, the RHS National Team has been housed at the First Nations Centre of the National Aboriginal Health Organization (Ottawa), Chiefs of Ontario, and the Assembly of First Nations.
Within each of the ten participating regions, the RHS is coordinated by various autonomous First Nations Regional Organizations. These regional organizations essentially perform the same tasks as the national team, but, on a regional level.
What is the difference between a longitudinal and a cross-sectional survey?
Longitudinal surveys follow a group of unique individuals over time whereas cross-sectional surveys may use different individuals to participate each time data is collected. By surveying the same individuals (with approximately the same questions) many times over their life, we are better able to compare their exposure to various health determinants and eventual disease outcome.
What kinds of questions does RHS ask?
The RHS survey reflects a holistic view of health. Past and current surveys have asked about the physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, environmental, economic and social factors that determine health.