People Awakening: Collaborative Research to Develop Cultural Strategies for Prevention in Community Intervention

James Allen, Gerald V. Mohatt, Sarah Beehler, Hillary L. Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The consequences of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and suicide create immense health disparities among Alaska Native people. The People Awakening project is a long-term collaboration between Alaska Native (AN) communities and university researchers seeking to foster health equity through development of positive solutions to these disparities. These efforts initiated a research relationship that identified individual, family, and community protective factors from AUD and suicide. AN co-researchers next expressed interest in translating these findings into intervention. This led to development of a strengths-based community intervention that is the focus of the special issue. The intervention builds these protective factors to prevent AUD and suicide risk within AN youth, and their families and communities. This review provides a critical examination of existing literature and a brief history of work leading to the intervention research. These work efforts portray a shared commitment of university researchers and community members to function as co-researchers, and to conduct research in accord with local Yup'ik cultural values. This imperative allowed the team to navigate several tensions we locate in a convergence of historical and contemporary ecological contextual factors inherent in AN tribal communities with countervailing constraints imposed by Western science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-111
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
At the conclusion of this first PA study, community members expressed interest in using the data for action in their communities, and the PA Coordinating Council of community co-researchers set as its top priority the development of interventions based upon the PA heuristic model, with a focus on youth. Through a variety of community inputs, we were asked to develop programs that would enhance protective factors implicated in outcomes of sobriety and well-being, and that would prevent not only alcohol abuse, but also, in one of the communities, suicide risk. We began planning two interventions ultimately funded through NIH R24 and R21 grant mechanisms, initiating a CBPR process for their development.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the National Center for Research Resources [R21 AA016098-01, RO1AA11446; R21AA016098; R24MD001626; P20RR061430].


  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol use disorder prevention
  • American Indian and Alaska Native
  • Community based participatory research
  • Suicide
  • Suicide prevention


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