The Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) presented their AVOID Frailty model at the 2022 YSPOR Health Summit. This research informed model outlines five factors known to reduce frailty among aging populations – Activity, Vaccinate, Optimize medication, Diet and Nutrition. CFN’s presentation sparked an important conversation about the model’s cultural appropriateness for Yukon First Nations and other Indigenous older adults. CFN funded this project to gather feedback about the AVOID Frailty model.

The project was conducted in partnership with Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle (WAWC) and Yukon University/YSPOR. The research team consisted of Liris, YukonU’s Health Research Chair and Mark, YSPOR Research Assistant. Elder Jerry Soltani, Elder and member of YSPOR Oversight Committee advised several stages of the research. Support and guidance from WAWC and Elder Jerry helped ensure that research was done in the right way!

Liris and Mark conducted a total of 42 in-person interviews with Indigenous participants aged 55 and older located across four communities. These interviews generated rich discussions about individual and community needs, including barriers and supports for healthy aging within Yukon communities. A thematic analysis of the interview data is underway, and the research team has already noted a few major themes. Every participant highlighted the importance of staying active, eating healthy, interacting with others, and contributing to their communities as they age. Often these priorities overlapped and were facilitated through strong connections to the land. Arguably the most prominent theme is that the language surrounding the AVOID frailty model is deficit-based. Many participants suggested taking a more strengths-based approach to promote healthy aging.  

Once the data analysis is complete, the findings will be shared with the Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) to help revise and adapt the current AVOID model. Findings will also be brought back to Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle (WAWC), research participants and their communities. Mark and Liris will be presenting the results at the Northern Dialogues conference, hosted in Whitehorse on May 23rd, 2024.  Finally, the research will be submitted for publication in an open-access journal. YSPOR is excited to see the researchers pursuing several avenues for knowledge translation!

Author: Mark Christopher