This paper reflects on the experiences of a northern Aboriginal community health organization in defining, addressing, and managing an outbreak of sexually transmitted infections in their region as part of a community-based participatory research project. Many Aboriginal health agencies struggle to balance the needs and values of their communities within a governance structure created and driven by paradoxical financial controls, policies, management structures, and measures of success. The relational nature of traditional Aboriginal health practices and management is not captured in current health management models. Through a series of interviews with health managers and frontline health care professionals we examine how different aspects of the management process vary between community staff and noncommunity staff. This case study illustrates the similarities and differences in defining a public health outbreak, developing a management approach, and measuring success. We conclude that a health management approach inclusive of both perspectives facilitates a relationship from the frontline health care workers to the patients themselves.
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