Indigenous lands and health access: The influence of a sense of place on disparities in post-stroke recovery in Taiwan

Zih Yong Liao*, Susanne Kean, Elaine Haycock-Stuart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Despite many countries having policies and systems for universal healthcare coverage, health disparity persists, with significant variations in disease prevalence and life expectancy between different groups of people. This focused ethnography explored the post-stroke recovery of Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in three geographical areas in Taiwan. Forty-eight observations and 24 interviews were carried out with 12 dyads of stroke survivors and family caregivers, revealing their varied experiences of healthcare. Findings indicate that repeatedly engaging in social activities in the same place increases stroke survivors' attachment to the environment, facilitating their reintegration into the community and improving wellbeing following stroke. The significance of ‘place’ in post-stroke life and healthcare access is particularly salient for Indigenous people's recovery. Indigenous people tend to employ cultural symbols, such as Indigenous languages and kinship ties, to define and interpret their surrounding environment and identity. Indigenous people residing within or close to their own native communities make better recoveries than those based in urban settings, who are attached to and yet located away from their native lands. A sense of place contributes to identity, while loss of it leads to invisibility and healthcare inaccessibility. To promote equitable healthcare access, future policymaking and care practices should address the environmental and cultural geography and structural barriers that impede the connection between minority groups and the mainstream community healthcare system. The study findings suggest extending welfare resources beyond Indigenous administrative regions and establishing partnerships between Indigenous organisations and the mainstream healthcare system. Leveraging Indigenous people's attachment to cultural symbols and increasing healthcare facilities staffed with Indigenous healthcare workers could help ease structural barriers, maintain identifiable Indigenous beneficiaries and increase entry points into the mainstream healthcare system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103210
Pages (from-to)103210
JournalHealth and Place
Early online date14 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • ethnic minority
  • ethnography
  • health disparity
  • indigenous
  • place attachment


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