Promoting Psychological Well-Being Among American Indian and Alaska Native Women: The Role of Communal Mastery and Historical Loss Awareness
Methods: The study used the 2011 cross-sectional community needs assessment survey among 146 AIAN rural young women (15-35 years). Communal mastery was measured by Hobfoll et al.’s Communal Mastery Scale (10 items; α=0.86). Psychological well-being was measured by Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-Being (42 items; α=0.87), which designed to measure six components: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relationships, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Awareness about historical loss was measured by Whitbeck et al.’s Historical Loss Scale (12 items; α=0.94), which measures frequency of thoughts about historical losses (e.g., loss of land, language and spiritual practices). We first conducted bivariate analyses to examine the associations between communal mastery, awareness about historical loss and psychological well-being. Meeting the criteria for a mediation analysis, we used a single mediation method to test the hypothesized causal sequence that awareness about historical loss may lead to a significant improvement in psychological well-being. The Sobel-test was used to assess the significance of the mediation effect.
Results: The results indicated that both greater communal mastery and more awareness about historical loss were associated with higher psychological well-being scores (t=3.73, p<0.01; t=4.3, p<0.01, respectively). Additionally, greater sense of communal mastery was associated with awareness about historical losses more often (t=3.4, p<0.01). This suggested that a strong connection with the tribal community may indicate greater knowledge and understanding about the historical context of community. In the mediation analysis, results of the Sobel-test suggested that the positive influence of communal mastery on psychological well-being was partially mediated by thinking about historical loss, and the mediated effect was significant (z=2.21, p<0.05). The results indicated that awareness about historical loss, as a health-promotion mechanism, can enhance the effect of communal mastery on psychological well-being.
Conclusions and Implications: To promote AIAN women’s psychological well-being, findings suggest that strength-based community programs may benefit from interventions that improve communal mastery skills and promote discussions and awareness of historical loss.