Mapping the Maternal Health Research Landscape in Nunavut: A Systematic Search and Critical Review of Methodology
Nunavut’s maternal healthcare system is characterized by rapid transition from community-based birth to a practice of obstetric evacuation and institutionalized birth. Given calls for Inuit self-determination in research, maternal health research – which informs healthcare practices and policies – may need to be conducted differently, using different research methodologies, to include Inuit women’s voices and lived experiences. In light of these calls, this article systematically synthesized the published maternal health literature in Nunavut and critically examined reported research methods. This systematic search and critical review involved a comprehensive database search and multi-level eligibility screening conducted by two independent reviewers. Data on the temporal, geographic, methodological, and topical range of studies were extracted, then descriptive statistics were calculated to summarize these data. A hybrid inductive and deductive qualitative analysis of the full-text articles was conducted to critically analyze research methodology. The initial search yielded 2,656 distinct articles and twenty-eight articles met the inclusion criteria. These articles were published from 1975-2016, mostly used quantitative research methodology (71.4%), were written from clinical perspectives (57.1%), and focused on maternity care (53.6%). Emergent themes related to both the contributions and areas for growth of research methodology in the conceptualization, initiation, implementation, reporting, and knowledge mobilization stages of the research process. This review revealed opportunities for maternal health researchers to: redress the ongoing impacts of colonization; further include Inuit definitions of health and perspectives on birth in study designs; explore new methodologies that resonate with Inuit ways of knowing; continue (re)aligning research with community priorities; and move from consultation and collaborative partnership in research to Inuit leadership and data ownership. Indeed, this review illustrates that at each step of the research process, opportunity exists for Inuit perspectives and active involvement to shape and define maternal health research in Nunavut.