Launching native health leaders: reducing mistrust of research through student peer mentorship.
OBJECTIVES: We assessed the impact of Launching Native Health Leaders (LNHL), a peer-mentoring and networking program that introduced American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) undergraduates to health and research careers and concepts of community-based participatory research (CBPR). METHODS: We conducted 15 interviews and 1 focus group with students who had attended 1 or more LNHL meetings, which took place during 9 professional health research conferences in 2006 to 2009. We completed data collection in 2010, within 1 to 4 years of LNHL participant engagement in program activities. RESULTS: Participants described identity and cultural challenges they encountered in academic institutions and how their views shifted from perceiving research as an enterprise conducted by community outsiders who were not to be trusted toward an understanding of CBPR as contributing to AI/AN health. CONCLUSIONS: LNHL provided a safe environment for AI/AN students to openly explore their place in the health and research arenas. Programs such as LNHL support AI/AN student development as leaders in building trust for academic-tribal partnerships.