Key Informants (Day 11)

Today we had an opportunity to learn from several key informants involved in organizations working within Norway to improve the health of the community. Our informants included two people from Aksept (Center for Living with HIV); a social anthropologist working with the aid organization, CARE in Norway; and a social welfare nurse from Prindsen Mottakssenter, a safe “consumption house” for drug users. The marginalized groups focused on today were people living with HIV, women, and people struggling with drug addiction. The intent of our work with the individuals from these organizations was to achieve a wider understanding of these marginalized groups and to also challenge our own values and assumptions when working with individuals from marginalized groups. The knowledge acquired from this interaction allowed us to gain deeper insight on the health issues facing the community and ultimately will help lead us toward creating interventions and inform the care we provide.

Working with these key informants provides us with an opportunity to practice communication skills in line with the Public Health Core Competencies 3A3 and 3B3, which involve gathering information from individuals, organizations, and populations served with the goal of improving community health. Additionally, addressing the needs and welfare of marginalized groups in the community does important work to reduce ineqalities which is a focus of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #10. Targets within this goal include working toward the inclusion of everyone and the reduction of inequalities that are present based on differences such as age, sex, disability, health status, etc. Learning about marginalized groups and their struggles enables us to work to mitigate the effects of the elements that segregate them, advocate for their inclusion, and reduce the inequalities they face in the community.

An overriding theme of working with marginalized groups from today’s experience was the importance of respect and honoring human dignity. It is essential to see the individual as a human being, rather than seeing them by their diagnosis or another type of label that removes their humanity. For example, to see the person living with HIV, instead of the person who is HIV positive. It may seem like a subtle distinction, but saying the person is living with HIV allows them to be a person- a human being- first. Saying someone is HIV positive puts a label on them with an identity solely tied to their HIV status. When working with marginalized groups, we must focus first on our shared humanity and not on what marginalizes people.

Another important theme closely related to respect and human dignity was the concept of non-judgement. When working with marginalized groups it is critical to check our own biases and assumptions and interact from a place of non-judgement. For example, when working with people who are struggling with drug addiction, we must see the person as a human being with a unique life story that led to their struggle with drug abuse. We must withhold any judgements that our own biases, personal history, and assumptions may tempt us to entertain. Judgement can negatively interfere with our ability to interact, connect, and care with people from marginalized groups and impairs our ability to treat them as human beings worthy of respect and dignity.

Insights gained today from these key informants helps us to create a fuller picture of marginalized groups and the struggles that they face in the community. This gives us the knowledge to design appropriate interventions, but also informs our interactions and enables true human connection and inclusion. Making a connection and building a relationship helps us to better understand the person we are working with and is an important first step to any interventions or care that we provide. These are insights and tools that I will certainly carry with me into my future practice as a midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner. My background is as a community health worker in a women’s health center with the mission of providing care to the underserved segments in the Dayton, Ohio community. I hope to continue this important work as a health care provider. The lessons that I take away from today’s experience continue to fuel my passion for meeting people where they are without judgement and to always see the good, to see the human being, in every person that I encounter. Whether we are serving the needs of the community in Norway, or back in Ohio, people everywhere desire the same thing- to be seen and treated as human beings worthy of respect and dignity regardless of their story or struggles in life.



Christina Sutherland
Student Nurse at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio
Graduate Entry Program: Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner/Midwifery tracks


The Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice. (2014). Core competencies for public health professionals. Retrieved from

United Nations. (n.d.). Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries. Retrieved from

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