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Table 2 Summary of studies included in review

From: Residential schools and the effects on Indigenous health and well-being in Canada—a scoping review

Author and publication year Sample size Indigenous identity group Geographic location Age-sex Residential school attendance Health status Health related to residential school
T Anderson [39] N = 2571 Inuit NL, QC, NU, NT
Off-reserve
Northern
18+ years
M/F
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Personal and familial residential school attendance only significantly related to men's mental distress
T Anderson and A Thompson [48] N = 2925 Inuit NL, QC, NU, NT
Off-reserve
Northern
15–54 years
M/F
Personal
Familial
General health Personal and familial residential school attendance not significantly associated with self-reported excellent or very good health
SS Barton, HV Thommasen, B Tallio, W Zhang and AC Michalos [49] N = 201 First Nations BC
Rural
M age = 63.5 (attended RS); M age = 61.2 (non-attendee)
M = 93; F = 108
Personal General health Residential school attendees reported lower self-health scores compared to non-attendees
A Bombay, K Matheson and H Anisman [50] N = 143 First Nations ON, SK, BC, QC, AB, NB, MB, NS
On/off-reserve
Rural/urban
18–64 years
M = 36; F = 107
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Offspring of residential school Survivors appeared at increased risk for depression
A Bombay, K Matheson and H Anisman [51] N = 399 First Nations, Inuit, Métis ON
Off-reserve
18–69 years
M = 88, F = 311
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Altered appraisals of threat were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms relative to non-residential school adults
A Bombay, K Matheson and H Anisman [9] N/A First Nations Canada-wide
On-reserve
18+ years
M/F
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being The more generations that attended residential school, the poorer the psychological well-being of the next generation
M Chongo, JG Lavoie, R Hoffman and M Shubair [52] N = 24 Aboriginal BC
Urban
39–56 years
M
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Many said historic trauma/residential school affected adherence to HAART, led to pain and/or abusing drugs, low self-esteem, self-blame, insecurity, fear, and resentment
MJ Cooke, P Wilk, KW Paul and S Gonneville [33] N = 4060 Métis Canada-wide
Off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
6–14 years
M = 2050, F = 2010
Parental
Familial
Physical health Residential school is a positive predictor of obesity among younger boys/girls but a negative predictor among older girls
RR Corrado and IM Cohen [5] N = 127 First Nations BC 17–81 years
M = 89, F = 38
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being
Physical health
PTSD, substance abuse disorder, and major depression among residential school Survivors. Chronic headaches, heart problems, and arthritis also common
KJP Craib, PM Spittal, SH Patel, WM Christian, A Moniruzzaman, ME Pearce, L Demerais, C Sherlock, MT Schechter and P Cedar Project [37] N = 512 Aboriginal BC
Urban
Off-reserve
14–30 years
M = 247, F = 265
Familial Physical health Having at least one parent who attended residential school was an independent risk factor for HCV infection
T DeBoer, J Distasio, CA Isaak, LE Roos, S-L Bolton, M Medved, LY Katz, P Goering, L Bruce and J Sareen [53] N = 504 Aboriginal AB
Urban
Off-reserve
Age N/A
M = 320, F = 184
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Residential school history (particularly father’s history) and a number of mental and physical health conditions were significantly associated with volatile substance use
D Dionne [44] N = 5 First Nations AB
On-reserve
47–71 years
M = 1, F = 4
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Participant co-researchers explained addiction to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism
D Dionne and G Nixon [54] N = 5 First Nations AB
On-reserve
47–71 years
M = 1, F = 4
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being First Nations people and their family members suffered from trauma, shame, marginalization, institutionalized conditioning and abuse
RF Dyck, C Karunanayake, B Janzen, J Lawson, VR Ramsden, DC Rennie, PJ Gardipy, L McCallum, S Abonyi, JA Dosman, et al. [32] N = 874 First Nations SK
On-reserve
17–29 years
M = 431, F = 443
Personal
Familial
Physical health Participants who attended residential school had slightly higher prevalence of diabetes than those that did not, but not statistically significant. Those with parent or grandparent residential school history also did not significantly predict diabetes
B Elias, J Mignone, M Hall, SP Hong, L Hart and J Sareen [41] N = 2953 First Nations MB
On-reserve
18+ years
M/F
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Attendees with abuse history likely to have history of suicide thoughts or attempts. Abuse history for non-attendees more likely for those with multi-generational residential school exposure
D Feir [29] N = 4939 First Nations, Inuit, Métis ON, MB, SK, AB, BC
On/off-reserve
Rural/urban
7–15 years
M/F
Familial General health Children who had a mother that attended residential school fared better on numerous health dimensions than children whose mother did not attend
IM Findlay, J Garcea and JG Hansen [55] N = 105 First Nations, Métis, non-status
Aboriginal, other
SK
Urban
18–64 years
M = 32, F = 72, Other = 1
Personal
Familial
General health In part because residential school, as few as 6-11% reported physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being as excellent
First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS) [42] N = 22,602 First Nations Canada-wide
(excl. NU)
On-reserve
0–11 years (C)
12–17 years (Y)
18+ years (A)
M/F
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being
Physical health
(C) No effects of familial residential school history
(Y) Youth who had at least one parent attend residential school were more likely to have thought about suicide
(A) Increased susceptibility to mental and physical health effects resulting from attendance at residential school
First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) [25] N = 21,757 First Nations Canada-wide
On-reserve
0–11 years (C)
12–17 years (Y)
18+ years (A)
M/F
Personal
Familial
Physical health
Mental health/emotional well-being
General health
(C) Emotional or behavioural problems not associated with familial residential school history (Y) Intergenerational impacts of residential school related to depressive symptoms
(A) Attendees more likely to be diagnosed with at least one chronic condition, smoking (maternal), and report poorer overall health and well-being
H Ghosh [30] N = 20 First Nations ON
Off-reserve
Urban
21–77 years
M = 3, F = 17
Personal Physical health Consumption of a higher concentration of carbohydrates at residential school partly indicative of higher incidences of diabetes among First Nations people.
JP Gone [56] N = 1 First Nations MB
On-reserve
50’s
F
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Traumatic stressors caused by residential school related to historical trauma. Enduring problems through adulthood, (e.g., alcoholism, religious alienation, and troubled relationships)
C Hackett, D Feeny and E Tompa [28] N = 14,280 First Nations, Inuit, Métis Canada-wide
Off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
18+ years
M, F
Familial General health
Mental health/emotional well-being
Familial residential school attendance was associated with lower self-perceived health and mental health and higher risk for distress, suicidal ideation and suicide attempt
GK Healey [35] N = 20 Inuit NU
Northern
Parents of youth 13–19 years
M = 3, F = 17
Personal
Familial
Physical health Parents discussed sexual health in the context of historical community events related to settlement and/or residential school
G Healey [34] N = 20 Inuit NU
Northern
30–58 years
M = 3, F = 17
Personal
Familial
Physical health Traumatic experiences of the settlement and residential school era impact present-day family relationships and parent-adolescent communication in general and specifically sexual health
HA Howard [31] N = 124 Indigenous Canada-wide 18–86 years
M = 45, F = 79
Personal
Familial
Physical health Residential school contributed to the urbanization of Indigenous people and to their health problems, in this case to eating habits affecting diabetes
Y Iwasaki and JG Bartlett [57] N = 26 First Nations, Métis Western Canada
Urban
26–69 years
M = 9, F = 17
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Some Indigenous individuals with diabetes described cumulative stress due to their traumatic experiences in residential schools
Y Iwasaki and J Bartlett [58] N = 26 First Nations, Métis Western Canada
Urban
26–69 years
M = 9, F = 17
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Some Indigenous individuals with diabetes described cumulative stress due to their traumatic experiences in residential schools
Y Iwasaki, J Bartlett and J O’neil [59] N = 26 First Nations, Métis Western Canada
Urban
26–69 years
M = 9, F = 17
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Some Indigenous individuals with diabetes described cumulative stress due to their traumatic experiences in residential schools
K Jacklin [43] N = 350 First Nations ON
On-reserve
18+ years
143 females interviewed for every 100 males
Personal
Familial
General health Least healthy, most unhappy and the most economically disadvantaged villages had a closer historical relationship to colonial influences (e.g., church, residential school and Indian Agents)
R Jackson, R Cain and T Prentice [60] N = 72 First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Other ON, BC, AB, MB, Atlantic region 26–54 years
M = 45, F = 23, Transgender = 4
N/A Mental health/emotional well-being Some participants attributed experiences of depression to historical trauma and legacy of residential school
LE Jones [61] N = 31,630 First Nations Canada-wide
On/off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
49+ years
M/F
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Exposure to residential schools led to an increase in smoking and drinking and potentially worse mental health outcomes (e.g., acculturative stress leading to risk health behaviours)
SA Juutilainen, R Miller, L Heikkilä and A Rautio [62] N = 45 First Nations, Sami ON, Canada; Finland
On-reserve
18–80 years
M = 18, F = 27
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being First Nations participants stated that personal and/or familial attendance at residential school had a negative impact on their health (e.g., language and cultural loss, fractured identity, and negative self-worth resulting in feelings of anger, stress, depression, and low-self-esteem)
V Kaspar [27] N = 13,881 First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Other/multiple identity Canada-wide
Off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
34+ years
M = 6246, F = 7635
Personal General health Residential school attendance predicted negative health status both directly and indirectly through socioeconomic and community risk factors
MJ Kral [63] N = 27 Inuit NU
Northern
17–61 years
M = 16, F = 11
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Romantic, family, and intergenerational relations described with suicidality in the context of colonial change. Negative effect of the colonial wound appears to have been on family relations, a serious form of cultural discontinuity
MB Kumar [64] N = 10,306 First Nations, Inuit, Métis Canada-wide
Off-reserve
Rural/urban
Northern
26–59 years
M/F
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being First Nations women, Métis men, and Métis women with personal or familial residential school history more likely than those without history to have had suicidal thoughts
MB Kumar and A Nahwegahbow [65] N = 4686
(APS)
N = 3020
(CCHS–MH)
First Nations, Inuit, Métis Canada-wide
Off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
18–25 years Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Personal or familial residential school experience was marginally associated with suicidal thoughts among off-reserve First Nations young adults.
MB Kumar, M Walls, T Janz, P Hutchinson, T Turner and C Graham [66] N = 11,362 Métis QC, ON, SK, AB, NU
Off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
20–59 years
M/F
N/A Mental health/emotional well-being History of residential school experience not significantly associated with suicidal ideation
M Lemstra, M Rogers, A Thompson, J Moraros and R Buckingham [67] N = 603 N/A SK N/A N/A Mental health/emotional well-being Attending a residential school was independently associated with depressive symptomatology
M Lemstra, M Rogers, A Thompson, J Moraros and R Buckingham [68] N = 603 First Nations, Inuit, Métis SK
Off-reserve
Urban
18–69 years
M = 277, F = 253
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Comparing to non-Indigenous IDUs, study found that Indigenous IDUs were more likely to be female and younger, less likely to receive paid income and were more likely to have attended residential school or had a parent/grandparent attend
A Moniruzzaman, ME Pearce, SH Patel, N Chavoshi, M Teegee, W Adam, WM Christian, E Henderson, KJ Craib and MT Schechter [69] N = 605 First Nations, Inuit, Métis BC
Off-reserve
Urban
14–30 years
M = 313, F = 292
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Having at least one parent who attended residential school was marginally significant with attempted suicide
N Mota, B Elias, B Tefft, M Medved, G Munro and J Sareen [70] N = 1125 First Nations MB
On-reserve
12–17 years
M = 520, F = 605
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Suicidality not significantly related to parent/grandparent attending residential school
RT Oster, A Grier, R Lightning, MJ Mayan and EL Toth [71] N = 10 First Nations AB
On-reserve
20+ years
M = 7, F = 3
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being
Physical health
Diabetes, broken communities, loss of parenting skills, addictions, suicides, and marital breakups, apprehended children, lifeline (culture) severed, shame, loss of a voice, mental health problems, contaminated families, disarray and chaos, and pain
EA Owen-Williams [72] N = 6 First Nations BC
On/off-reserve
Rural
N/A Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Three Elders personally attended residential school and the trauma of these schools was woven throughout each of the interviews. A legacy of resulting anger and alcohol and drug use occurred within communities.
J Reading and B Elias [4] N = 2663 First Nations, Inuit Canada-wide
On-reserve
45+ years
M, F
Personal General health 65% of residential school attendees reported fair or poor health status
LH Robertson [73] N = 3 Aboriginal N/A N/A Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Individuals exhibited a cluster of symptoms consistent with Brasfield’s typology, Residential School Syndrome, a specific form of PTSD
A Ross, J Dion, M Cantinotti, D Collin-Vézina and L Paquette [74] N = 358 Indigenous QC
On/off-reserve
Rural/urban
18+ years
M = 164, F = 194
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being
General health
Residential school attendance was linked to alcohol problems and 83 participants reported that residential school had a negative impact on their health and well-being
C Rotenberg [75] N = 8801 First Nations Atlantic, QC, ON, Prairies, BC, Territories
Off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
15+ years
M/F
Personal
Familial
General health The study did not detect any significant differences with respect to selected health outcomes analyzed
JP Rothe, P Makokis, L Steinhauer, W Aguiar, L Makokis and G Brertton [76] N = 15 First Nations AB
On-reserve
18–29 years
M, F
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Impaired driving, alcohol abuse, and intergenerational impacts due to local people’s traumatic experience with federal government residential schools
D Smith, C Varcoe and N Edwards [77] N = 73 Aboriginal Location N/A
Rural/urban
Age N/A
M = 7, F = 66
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Participants described intergenerational effects of residential school as the root of addiction, violence, and poverty among individuals, families, and communities
I Sochting, R Corrado, IM Cohen, RG Ley and C Brasfield [78] N = 127 First Nations BC 17–81 years
M = 89, F = 38
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being
Physical health
Risk factors for PTSD and mental health problems. Somatic complaints, such as chronic headaches, heart problems, high blood pressure, and arthritis
CD Stirbys [79] N = 29 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis ON Age N/A
F
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Residential schools created initial stressors for those who attended them; the longer-term effects of the children’s experiences showed up in the form of for example, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other self-destructive behaviours
R Stout [40] N = 17 First Nations, Métis, Non-Status, Aboriginal, Undisclosed identity MB, SK
Off-reserve
Urban
18–51 years
F = 17
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Twelve of the women agreed that familial attendance at residential schools have had an enduring impact on their lives and mental health
R Stout and S Peters [24] N = 6 First Nations MB Age N/A
F = 6
Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Women related how they had a variety of mental health illnesses including depression, eating disorders, workaholism, obsessive-compulsive disorders, self-hate, and low self-esteem
M van Niekerk and A Bombay [80] N = 4934 First Nations Canada-wide
(excl. NU)
On-reserve
N/A Familial Mental health/emotional well-being Having a parent who attended residential school put First Nations adults diagnosed with cancer at greater risk for psychological distress compared to those without this family history.
C Varcoe and S Dick [36] N = 30 First Nations, Mixed identity (4 identified as Aboriginal) BC
On/off-reserve
Rural
16–58 years
F = 30
Personal
Familial
Physical health
Mental health/emotional well-being
Women’s experiences demonstrated how gender, rural living, poverty, racism, and colonialism intersect and increase risk for health problems, including STIs and HIV
ML Walls, D Hautala and J Hurley [81] N/A First Nations Central Canada, USA
On-reserve
Age N/A
M/F
Personal
Familial
Mental health/emotional well-being Suicidal behaviour was described by community members as a problem with deep historical and contemporary structural roots
ML Walls and LB Whitbeck [38] N = 853 First Nations; American Indian Canada-wide, USA
On-reserve
Mean age = 39.3
M, F (~72%)
Personal Mental health/emotional well-being Bivariate results show that culturally relevant early lifetime (residential school) and adulthood (perceived historical loss) stressors are negatively associated with mental health among adults
D Wardman and D Quantz [82] N = 15 Aboriginal AB, BC
Rural/urban
20–60 years
M = 2, F = 13
N/A Mental health/emotional well-being Participants related their binge drinking to a broader perception of shame and cultural loss, for some this began in residential schools
K Wilson, MW Rosenberg and S Abonyi [26] N = 51,080 First Nations, Inuit, Métis Canada-wide
On/off-reserve
Rural/urban/
Northern
18+ years
M, F
Personal General health Residential school attendees reported worse health status than the population who did not attend residential school