Contaminant Biomonitoring in the Dehcho Region: A Pilot Investigation of the Links Between Contaminant Exposure, Nutritional Status, and Country Food Use

Regions: Dehcho Region

Tags: contaminants, traditional food, nutrition

Principal Investigator: Laird, Brian D (5)
Licence Number: 15560
Organization: University of Waterloo
Licenced Year(s): 2016 2015 2014
Issued: Dec 04, 2014
Project Team: Rhona Hanning (Professor, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo), Shannon Majowicz (Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo), Heidi Swanson (Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo), Michael Power (Professor, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo), Ken Stark (Associate Professor, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo), George Low (Dehcho Aboriginal Environmental Health as Aboringinal Aquatic Resources and Ocean Management (AAROM) Coordinator, Dehcho First Nations , Dehcho First Nations), Kami Kandola (Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Government of Northwest Territories , Government of Northwest Territories), Sarah Aleyan (Graduate Student, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo), Laura Clappison (Undergraduate Student, University of Waterloo, University of Waterloo)

Objective(s): To promote country foods in the Dehcho Region in a way that balances contaminant risks and nutrient benefits in order to maximize nutrient status while minimizing mercury exposure.

Project Description: The overall objective of this research is to promote country foods in the Dehcho Region in a way that balances contaminant risks and nutrient benefits in order to maximize nutrient status while minimizing mercury exposure. The research team will work towards this objective through the implementation of pilot research that will: 1) develop a locally-relevant dietary survey, 2) evaluate the dietary survey through focus groups held in two Dehcho communities, and 3) evaluate the reliability of the survey through a test-retest approach.

A Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) will be designed through the adaptation of surveys previously (1994-2001) used by McGill University researchers to evaluate country food consumption among Dene/Metis communities of the Northwest Territories. Specifically, in consultation with community-based collaborators, the FFQ will be updated according to changes in the local availability of particular traditional foods to ensure the survey is locally-relevant. Once the FFQ has been designed, it will be transferred into an electronic format so that it can be completed on tablets (e.g. Ipads). With this FFQ, the research team intends to gather information on the quantity of fish harvested, the types of fish harvested, the locations where these fish species are harvested, and the frequency by which these fish are consumed in the Dehcho Region. The parts of the fish consumed and preparation methods will also be documented.

Researchers will travel to the Dehcho Region in order to hold public consultation meetings and hold focus groups in two Dehcho communities (Kakisa, Jean Marie River) to evaluate the completeness, cultural relevance, and comprehensibility of the survey. In consultation with community partners, there will be in each of Kakisa and Jean Marie River. Prior to researcher’s arrival in the Dehcho Region in November, the local research coordinators will recruit 12 participants 15 years of age and older, including both youth and Elders, for a series of focus groups in each participating community. Before participating in the focus groups, each participant will be required to read an informed consent form before signing an informed consent. A series of three focus groups with four participants per focus group will be held over one day in both communities. After the completion of each focus group, the research team will ask for specific feedback on any portion of the survey that did not make sense, the identification of any foods missing from the survey, and their overall satisfaction with the survey. The entire process will take no more than 2 hours per focus group. After completing the necessary revisions to the survey suggested by the focus group participants, the research team will test the reliability of the FFQ through a standard test-retest framework. For this reliability test, the local coordinators will recruit an additional 8 individuals within each of their respective communities to take the dietary survey on two occasions approximately 10 days apart. The FFQ results from each of these 16 participants will be integrated with food composition data to estimate dietary Hg intakes to ensure survey reliability.

Both of the community coordinators will receive training on participant recruitment, implementation of the questionnaire, and focus groups methodologies.

The results of this pilot research will be returned in the form of plain-language reports and posters for both participating communities. Additionally, the outcomes will be presented within community forums planned as part of the consultation process for the proposed biomonitoring project.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from December 4, 2014 to December 31, 2014.