Women's wellness consumer forum.


Health promotion activities for the Indian Health Service (IHS) and tribal health worker have been a part of the IHS program efforts for many years. An IHS/tribal committee convened to plan a 1991 women's conference in the Albuquerque Area. The group decided that IHS and tribal health providers needed a new approach that involved Indian women who lived and worked in their communities but were not directly involved with the health care system. The group believed that involving consumers who had little affiliation with the IHS health care system and who could provide a community perspective was essential in empowering Indian people by providing them with the information they needed to favorably impact their health status. The conference occurred over 2 1/2 days and began with morning aerobic classes. The first day and a half of the meeting consisted of presentations about the status of women's health nationally and locally. Concurrent sessions in the afternoon and the next morning addressed women's health concerns: (1) cancer prevention; (2) domestic violence; (3) prenatal care and infant mortality; (4) sexually transmitted diseases; (5) parenting and child abuse; (6) substance abuse; (7) growing older and menopause; and (8) medical self-care. In the evening, there were videos about the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome on a family and about how a Native American community organized and gained sobriety. Discussion sessions followed the videos. On the second afternoon, participants gathered by geographic region into planning groups to (1) define major health problems or concerns specific to their communities, (2) prioritize their problems, and (3) identify possible solutions. The groups summarized the major problems and issues for women in their own communities. Participant evaluation forms indicated that the conference increased their knowledge about women's health issues. The final recommendations included planning another conference focusing on organization of local women's wellness activities and organizing a formal communication and support mechanism among women from different locations.