Date of Award

Fall 1-9-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Ike Okosun

Second Advisor

Dr. Rodney Lyn


Diabetes is the cause of a major health burden in the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population in the United States. While rates have been rising throughout the U.S. over the last two decades, the incidence of diabetes among AI/AN individuals remains higher than for any other racial or ethnic group. In fact, AI/ANs are now over two times as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-hispanic whites in the U.S. Despite improvements in healthcare delivery and access diabetes continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality among AI/AN people across the country. With such a vast disparity in effect, it emphasizes the need for a more focused attention on the AI/AN population in order to better understand how this has occurred and how it can be addressed. The purpose of this study is to explore the depth of the diabetes burden in the AI/AN population in a way that will inform and support future efforts in prevention in AI/AN communities. Key questions will surround diabetes and its risk factors, the extent of disparity, the history of the AI/AN people as it has influenced this disparity, and whether or not there exists evidence of successful prevention and intervention in the AI/AN population. This paper will also identify the national organizations at the forefront of the fight to improve the health and diabetes-related health outcomes of the AI/AN population, as well as existing gaps in knowledge, promising findings from the literature, challenges, and recommendations for future efforts.