Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Mary Nelle Traylor

Committee Members

Jane R. Savage, Cyrus Mayshark


The topics for investigation were the organization and programs of the Division of Indian Health in the Oklahoma City Area and the role and responsibilities of a public health nutritionist. A field experience of eight weeks was designed for the student to observe and participate in the activities of the Division of Indian Health in the Oklahoma City Area and in the Talihina Service Unit. Data were collected through conferences, interviews, observations, visits, and readings.

The Division of Indian Health in the Oklahoma City Area provides preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services to approximately 73,000 Indians living in the states of Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Kansas. There are more than 30 tribes with individual tribal characteristics residing in these states. The Indian population is young and has a median age of 20 years. The health status, median family income, and educational attainment is generally lower for the Indian than the non-Indian population.

The Division of Indian Health, located in the Medical Services Branch of the Public Health Service, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is the official agency concerned with the health of the Indian people. The Division staff is assigned to seven areas. Each area is organized to provide comprehensive health services including hospitalization, out-patient medical care, public health nursing, dental, nutrition, health education, pharmaceutical, medical social services, and environmental health services to the Indian beneficiary. The goal is to raise the health status of the Indian to the highest possible level. To facilitate the administration of health programs, the Oklahoma City Area, like other areas, is divided into service units that are the basic unit of operation.

The-Nutrition and Dietetics program provides services in both prevention of illness and treatment of Indian patients. The nutritionist guides individuals and groups toward better health through improved nutrition and helps keep the staff up-to-date in nutrition. The dietitian is especially concerned with the diet of hospitalized patients and management of the dietary department. An effort is made to see that each patient leaving the hospital on a modified diet understands it, and that the diet is adapted to his eating habits, food preferences, and home food supply in so far as possible.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health, local health departments, University of Oklahoma Medical Center, Crippled Children's Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Office of Economic Opportunity are other agencies that are concerned with the health and well being of the Indians and that provide services for them. The Indian is encouraged to utilize all the health and community resources that are provided him as a citizen-of the county, state, and nation.

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Nutrition Commons