Culture and History Matter: Historical Trauma and Cultural Protective Factors on Alcohol Use Among Truku Tribal People
LEE (Teyra), MEI-YI (Ciwang)
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Indigenous peoples of Taiwan have experienced significant health disparities in comparison with their non-indigenous counterparts, the Han population. In Taiwan, indigenous peoples have a higher mortality rate than the majority Han population. Additionally, alcohol-related chronic liver disease/cirrhosis and accidental injuries are among the 10 leading causes of death within indigenous communities. Indeed, alcohol use has become one of the highest-priority concerns for Taiwanese indigenous communities. Recent research has explored interpersonal, social, and biological determinants of alcohol use among indigenous peoples in Taiwan, but few studies have explored the influences of historical context and indigenous cultural practices on alcohol use. This dissertation extends the historical trauma framework that was initially developed for American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) populations to investigate the influence of historical trauma on alcohol use and the protective roles of cultural practices among Taiwanese indigenous communities, especially the Truku tribal communities. The dissertation consists of three papers that focus on (1) exploring Truku tribal people’s relationship with alcohol use by using an historical trauma framework; (2) measuring historical trauma by developing historical trauma-related scales relevant to Truku tribal people; and (3) determining whether indigenous cultural practices act as protective factors that can ameliorate the negative effects of historical trauma on alcohol use disorder. The first paper used direct content analysis of qualitative data (30 in-depth interviews with Truku tribal members) to investigate the applicability of a historical trauma framework for Truku tribal people and to explore their relationship with alcohol use utilizing the framework. Findings suggested that alcohol use was a stress coping approach, alleviating cumulative stress from historical traumatic events. These events resulted in many cultural losses among Truku tribal communities. Both historical traumatic events and losses were associated with responses such as depression, anxiety and alcohol use. Specific historical traumatic events, historical losses, and associated responses were also identified in the first paper. In the second paper, I developed three historical trauma related scales relevant to Truku tribal people based on the qualitative findings of the first paper. Then I conducted a cross-sectional quantitative survey of 245 Truku tribal members across 14 Truku tribal villages to assess the psychometric properties of these newly developed scales. Findings confirmed satisfactory psychometric properties of the new developed scales. The third paper assessed the relationships between exposure to intergenerational historical traumatic events, participation in indigenous cultural practices, and alcohol use disorder. In particular, I evaluated whether cultural practices could moderate the influence of intergenerational historical traumatic events on alcohol use disorder. Using the same cross-sectional data (n=245) as that in Paper 2, linear regression analyses were conducted. Findings indicated exposure to intergenerational historical traumatic events positively predicted alcohol use disorder, and the association was moderated by participation in cultural practices. Collectively, my dissertation research provides additional insights to the understanding of the determinants of alcohol use among indigenous communities in Taiwan by adding historical trauma. Both qualitative and quantitative findings also suggest that historical trauma impacts contemporary Truku people’s alcohol usage. The research underscores that indigenous cultural practices as significant strengths and resilience mitigate the negative influence of historical trauma on Truku people’s alcohol use. Truku people who participate in cultural practices are less likely to engage in alcohol use disorder despite exposure to historical trauma. This study’s findings suggest indigenous cultural practices should facilitate the development of culturally grounded interventions to promote healthy Truku communities, especially to defend against the damaging legacy of colonization facing their communities.