Better Choices, Better Health South Dakota (BCBH-SD) has offered nearly 300 workshops and provided evidence-based education through workshops and training to more than 3,000 people since 2014. While the tribal population represents about ten percent of the state’s population, very few tribal members were impacted.

Vicki Palmreuter, program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care, was among the group of BCBH leaders seeking innovative solutions for increasing engagement. Having a strong strategic partnership with Great Plains Tribal Leader’s Health Board, a virtual pilot for hosting evidence-based programs in tribal communities was developed and introduced to rural reservations as well as urban areas of higher Native populations like Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Pierre.

Vicki Palmreuter SDFMC“We wanted to test a process to connect tribal populations virtually, to provide them the tools and peer support needed to better manage their chronic conditions, and to improve health outcomes,” Palmreuter explained. “Typically hosted as in-person sessions, the COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity to explore a virtual delivery method.”

Pre and post-event surveys provided valuable feedback for incorporating cultural elements within the evidence-based programs.

  • 80 percent requested cultural values, aspects, or traditions to be included where appropriate
  • 100 percent desired the mention of prayer and smudging, a traditional ceremony for purifying or cleansing the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place

The second pilot workshops were adjusted to include the following cultural elements:

  • Each workshop session was opened using a common tribal community practice of sharing a short prayer or a quote
  • Introduction time used Lakota/Dakota and English language to encourage participant use of Indigenous languages
  • Kinship practices, roles, and support play a larger role with collectivistic cultures and were more actively incorporated.
  • Appropriate reference was made to Lakota and Dakota beliefs and traditions

Better Choices Better Health South Dakota

“Through the exploration of virtual delivery methods for evidence-based chronic disease self-management programs, we discovered best practices and lessons learned that will position us for growth to impact more of the Native population in South Dakota,” share Palmreuter. “We will continue to rely on local tribal BCBH-SD leaders as partners to help inform, guide cultural considerations, and champion the program’s development efforts.”

For more information on Better Choices, Better Health South Dakota, contact Vicki Palmrueter at 605-338-2721.