First Nations Regional Health Survey

The First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS, or RHS for short) is the only First Nations-governed, national health survey in Canada. It collects information about on reserve and northern First Nations communities based on both Western and traditional understandings of health and well-being.

How the RHS Came to be: The Regional Health Survey (RHS) was developed in response to two key events that took place in the 1990s – to act on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) and to address the exclusion of Aboriginal peoples in major StatsCan surveys.

In the mid-1990s the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs Committee on Health mandated that a survey be implemented every four years that gathers data regarding First Nations and Inuit health across Canada. This survey was to be inspired and reflecting of First Nations and Inuit ways of life. At the same token the survey had to maintain comparability with other major health surveys. Thus was born the First Nations and Inuit Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS).

The first iteration of the RHS took place, sometimes referred to as the “pilot phase”, in 1997 and involved both First Nations and Inuit peoples from across Canada. At the close of the pilot phase the Inuit opted out of the process to develop a survey of their own.

Data collection for the next round of surveys took place between the Fall of 2002 to mid-2003. This time the survey was only administered in First Nations communities. The project was also changed its name to the “First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey.” The 2002-2003 round of RHS is considered to be RHS Phase 1, distinct from the pilot as it no longer contains information regarding Inuit peoples. A total of 22,602 surveys were completed in 238 First Nations communities across Canada. Phase 1 also serves as the basis for comparison for subsequent rounds of RHS.

Since the deployment of RHS Phase 1 a second phase (Phase 2) was completed between 2008-2010. A total of 21,757 surveys were collected from 216 First Nations communities.

The results for the 2008-10 Regional Health Survey can be found here. It contains a comprehensive analysis based on the 4 directions model of health, information about the RHS methodology and profiles of the participant communities.

The FNIGC its member regions are in the process of rolling out the RHS Phase 3. Data collection will commence in the upcoming months. More to come.

The Questionnaires: Access to the RHS questionnaires is just a click away.