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The United States federal government created the Indian Health Service (IHS) to fulfill a promise to uphold quality health care to American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) people, and yet these communities continue to face health disparities and have a higher prevalence of chronic diseases. The higher prevalence of poor health conditions for the AI/AN population indicates the need to provide high-quality care to prevent health complications and to improve overall health. Little is known about the relationship between the IHS and the quality of health care for AI/AN community. The aim of this systematic review is to explore the impact that the IHS has on AI/AN health outcomes including life diabetes, life expectancy and maternal mortality.

This author independently screened 3,069 titles and abstracts from PubMed and Scopus. Studies were included if they adhered to the inclusion criteria of the IHS and AI/AN health outcomes (diabetes, life expectancy and maternal mortality). PRISMA guidelines were followed in this process.

The search yielded eight relevant articles which were included in the final review. Results showed that additional funding and resources to the IHS would lead to improved health outcomes in this population. Barriers to health care that affected life expectancy included inadequate funding of IHS service centers, limited access to resources and educational services. Additionally, when the IHS revied funding and created a specialized diabetes program, diabetes health outcomes improved.

To this author’s knowledge, this systematic review is the first study that explores the impact of the IHS on AI/AN health outcomes. This review found that the IHS has an impact on AI/AN health outcome, and when allotted more resources and increased funding there are improved health outcomes in the AI/AN population.