Considerations in research with indigenous peoples include getting at culturally-based understanding based on indigenous participants’ ways of living and thinking, translating instruments and findings when concepts lack equivalence across languages, adapting measures in ways that are both culturally resonant and able to detect change resulting from intervention, and addressing lack of comparability or cultural measurement equivalence. This symposium will discuss these challenges and strategies for addressing them, drawing on examples from community based participatory research focused on addressing health disparities in rural Alaska Native communities.
The Yup’ik Experiences of Stress and Coping project originated when rural Alaska Native communities expressed concerns about stress and its effects on health. The project’s goal is to better understand stress and coping in Yup’ik communities to inform a culturally-grounded stress-reduction intervention. Understanding local conceptions of stress that are grounded in the experiences and perceptions of the Yup’ik community participants is critical to achieving this goal.
This presentation combines two separate presentations from the Biennial Conference. Providing the opportunity for interview participants to respond to questions in their primary language can result in a rich and meaningful exchange of culturally-grounded knowledge. Nevertheless, strategies used to move between two languages, for example, to translate interview questions from English to non-English, and then to translate participants’ responses back to English for in-depth analysis can pose significant challenges. When words or concepts lack linguistic equivalence across languages, the processes of translation can result in the distortion or loss of cultural meaning, and a compromise in the trustworthiness of findings.
We describe our efforts to develop a measure of family functioning for our prevention work with Yup’ik Alaska Native youth and their families. Our presentation illustrates solutions to some of the challenges in creating measures that are culturally resonant and sensitive to change associated with intervention effect. We will focus on our work originally intended to adapt the Family Environment Scale (FES; Moos & Moos, 1981) relationship dimension items to measure Yup’ik youth and parent’s perceptions of the quality of their family relationships, which in this indigenous cultural group are traditionally organized around an extended kinship family structure aligned towards collectivist orientations.
Measurement exists in all cultures. However, the form, process, content, complexity, and cognitive and perceptual orientation vary considerably. Even the physical dimensions encountered by societies such as length, weight, and time and their corresponding social constructs are not the same worldwide. Yet use of standardized assessments and measures across cultures is replete with scaling and lexicon problems and concerns. Numerous researchers and psychometricians point to cultural measurement equivalence or measurement comparability as the most common theme that runs through the literature on cultural-comparative research and measurement.