Andrew R. Hatala is a cultural psychologist, qualitative and community-health researcher, and medical anthropologist with community-based research experience in urban Canadian contexts and rural communities in southern Belize. He became Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences after completing a CIHR post-doctorate fellowship in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan investigating strategies of resilience and mental health among First Nations and Metis youth. Dr. Hatala completed his PhD from the Culture, Health, and Human Development program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. His dissertation involved a comparative analysis of the relationship between Q’eqchi’ Maya traditional healer conceptions of mental illness and Western conceptions outlined in the DSM-5, including how this relationship or lack thereof impacts health policy and practice in Belize.
Dr. Hatala currently holds a CIHR New Investigator Award (2016-2020). There are three interconnected projects Dr. Hatala will advance over the next 5 years as one program of research with an overall goal of generating evidence-based knowledge of community initiatives designed to improve health equity and wellness among Indigenous populations: (1) investigating barriers to treatment and health service needs for Indigenous peoples living in Saskatoon and Winnipeg with HIV/AIDS; (2) fostering dialogues between Maya Indigenous healers and the Ministry of Health in Belize to improve cultural competence among biomedical staff and cultural safety for Indigenous patients; and (3) measuring health impacts for urban Indigenous youth in Canada who carry out participatory action projects designed to improve the social determinants of health in their local neighbourhouds. In all three contexts, there is considerable evidence that substantial health inequities exist for Indigenous peoples when compared to majority populations, including greater presence of disease, lower health outcomes, and barriers to healthcare access due to cultural tensions between Indigenous knowledge and biomedicine.
Throughout this work Dr. Hatala will critically examine the social and cultural determinants of health—at distal (historical, political, social, and economic contexts), intermediate (community infrastructure, resources, systems, and capacities), and proximal (health behaviours, physical, and social environments) levels—as root causes of inequities among contemporary Indigenous populations. At the same time, Dr. Hatala’s qualitative research approach focuses on revealing cultural strengths, local Indigenous knowledge, and positive aspects of a community that are needed to promote resilience, health equity, and social change. His published works focus on: traditional Indigenous healing and epistemology; Indigenous nosology of mental illness and disorder; culture, spirituality, and complimentary / alternative medicine; and resilience and well-being among Indigenous youth populations.
Dr. Hatala is currently accepting students in the graduate programs in Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. Please contact him early in your planning for supervision opportunities.
2015 CIHR Post-Doctorate Fellowship, University of Saskatchewan, Community Health and Epidemiology
2014 Ph.D. University of Saskatchewan, Cultural Psychology
2008 B.A. University of Saskatchewan, Psychology-Religious Studies
Area of Specialization:
Indigenous or traditional forms of medicine and healing, youth resilience and well-being, Culture and Spirituality, qualitative health research, community-based research