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Public Health and Kinesiology Research: Systematic searching for Indigenous health research


This page outlines guidance for developing systematic search methods to identify health research related to Indigenous peoples within Canada.  It focuses on three main categories:

  1. Peer reviewed, scholarly articles: the source of information prioritized by most evidence based reviews. 
  2. Grey literature (alternative forms of publications): an important source of evidence to capture research and information about, and produced by, the Indigenous community.
  3. Engaging the Indigenous community: Involving stakeholders to improve and add value to systematic knowledge syntheses.

Indigenous Health Research Guides

Looking for a broader look at Indigenous health resources?  Look through these library guides, focusing on Indigenous peoples within Canada

Waterloo Indigenous Research Guides

Other Waterloo library guides outlining Indigenous health resources include:

Knowledge translation and equity

Critical appraisal

Peer reviewed, scholarly articles

Most databases specializing in research related to Indigenous peoples contain both scholarly articles and grey literature such as reports, newsletters, and more.  

The following list of databases includes key databases for health research and Canadian content.

Language changes over time and there are many cases where antiquated, non standard, exclusionary, and potentially offensive terms for Indigenous peoples within Canada have been used in past and present literature.  In order to conduct a sensitive, comprehensive search for relevant studies, an author may choose to include these terms within a systematic search strategy. 

Townsend et al, (2022), librarians and members of the University of Michigan Library Diversity Council, provide guidance on how to address the inclusion of inappropriate and harmful terms in evidence syntheses and systematic searches.  Authors and search developers are encouraged to use the suggested wording as a starting point, and adapt it as appropriate, when preparing a manuscript and supplemental materials.

Townsend W, Anderson P, Capellari E, Haines, K., Hansen, S., James, L., MacEachem, M.,  Rana, G. K., & Saylor, K. (2022). Addressing antiquated, non-standard, exclusionary, and potentially offensive terms in evidence syntheses and systematic searches.

Grey Literature

In the customized Google search engine below, search for Canadian government organization websites and filter by federal, provincial and municipal levels.  Sample search strategy:  (indigenous OR metis OR "first nations" OR aboriginal OR inuit) AND "mental health"

 google icon Customized Government Search


Canadian, US and International Government Documents Search - code courtesy of MADGIC, Carleton University
Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) Searches - code courtesy of GODORT

Engaging the Indigenous community

Reviews can be enhanced through contributions from Indigenous researchers or members of the Indigenous community.  The stakeholder's role may involve refining or identifying research priorities, reduce or uncover biases in methodology, validate the outcomes, and provide additional sources of information.  

Watch "“Centering Indigenous Knowledges: Engaging with Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Being, and Doing in Knowledge Synthesis”" a webinar from Knowledge Translation Canada seminar series to learn more about:

  1. How to apply knowledge synthesis strategies that are respectful and inclusive of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, being, and doing.
  2. How to ensure projects impacting Indigenous Peoples are designed in ways that promote ethical engagement of Indigenous Peoples

Planning to contact someone from the Indigenous communty?  Read the following:  "Want to reach out to an indigenous scholar?  Awesome! But first, here are 10 things to consider"

Further readings: