Current Research

  • ALU LIKE Kūpuna Interviews: Hā Kūpuna researchers and graduate students are collaborating with the Title VI Program, ALU LIKE, on a 5-year research project with 50 kūpuna participants across five Hawaiian Islands—O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Island. The purpose of this study is to learn about kūpuna’s life experiences of strength and resilience, and their experiences with healthcare services to improve their health and wellbeing. Each kupuna participates in a set of three interviews held in a talk-story style. The first interview serves as an introduction to develop rapport, the second interview focuses on their strengths and resilience, and what they would like to pass to the next generation, and the third focuses on their healthcare experiences and advice to providers.

Completed Research

  • Life Expectancy (LE) Hawai`i has the longest life expectancy in the US–82 years. However, historically, Native Hawaiians have had the shortest life expectancy among the five largest ethnic groups in Hawai‘i.  Hā Kūpuna researchers analyzed data from Hawai‘i death records and population data through 2010 to see if the trend is continuing. Native Hawaiian life expectancy increased from 63 in 1950 to 77 in 2010.  However, the life expectancy for Native Hawaiians was still lower than that of the other ethnic groups. Although the life-expectancy gap decreased between Native Hawaiians and Caucasians, it increased between Native Hawaiians and Japanese and Chinese.
  • Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE). is a population health measure that combines mortality data with morbidity or health status data to estimate expected years of life in good health for a person at a given age. HLE accounts for quantity and quality of life and can be used to describe and monitor the health status of populations. The difference between LE and HLE is the disability adjusted life year (DALY). The gaps of HLE between Native Hawaiians and other ethnic groups are even greater than the life expectancy, as Native Hawaiian also had the longest DALY at birth.
  • Diabetes Trends in Hawai‘i  Hā Kūpuna researchers analyzed data from the Hawai‘i Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine diabetes prevalence over the life course for six racial/ethnic groups in Hawai‘i. While bivariate analysis showed that Japanese had the highest prevalence of diabetes, the risk of diabetes increases with age, and Japanese had the greatest proportion of the state’s population over age 65. The final age-ethnic interaction model revealed that Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos (the most vulnerable populations for poor health in Hawai‘i) had the highest prevalence of diabetes, while Japanese and Whites had the lowest. Income, physical activity, and obesity were the strongest predictors of diabetes.
  • Annotated Bibliography Center staff have compiled a comprehensive look at publications on Native Hawaiian health and aging. Also included are scholarship on general aging trends, cultural approaches to health care and some articles that generally orient the reader to Hawaiian paradigms.  Each entry comes with a short annotation or summary of the piece and a clickable link if it is available online. Our hope is that this annotated bibliography will be a strong foundation for anyone hoping to learn more about the needs and preferences of Native Hawaiian elders, be that in pursuit of research, direct professional service or personal caregiving.  You can use the ctrl+f function on a windows computer, or Command ⌘ + f on a mac to enter search terms you’d like to find in the document.  Click here to access the Annotated Bibliography 2017
  • Kūpuna and `Ohana Caregiver Listening Research Study: We went to the source, and held listening meetings with kūpuna and their `ohana caregivers in Hawai`i to identify their health and long‐term care needs and care preferences. Please refer to:
    Browne, C., Mokuau, N., Braun, K., Higuchi, P., Ka`opua, L., Kim, B.J. Listening to the voices of Native Hawaiian elders and `ohana caregivers: Discussions on aging, health, and care preferences,” Journal of Cross‐Cultural Gerontology, June 2014.
  • Mo`olelo, Grandparents, and Culture Research Study: In Hawai`i, 12% of Native Hawaiian grandparents live with grandchildren, compared to 7% of grandparents in all races combined in the state, and to 3.6% of grandparents in the U.S. Although strong family‐centric cultural values may provide Native Hawaiian grandparents with caregiving benefits, a generally poor health profile suggests they may also face challenges. In this study, we talked to Native Hawaiian grandparents raising grandchildren about their caregiving experiences, with an aim to document their challenges and benefits, including the transmission of cultural values. Findings from this study have been published in the International Public Health Journal. Ka‘opua LS, Goodyear-Ka‘opua JN, Kaawa JM, Amona SK, Browne CV, Robles AS. (2016). Look to the Source: Gathering Elder Stories as Segue to Youth Action-Oriented Research. International  Public Health Journal, 8 (2).
  • Oral History Project: Hā Kūpuna researchers are working with a Native Hawaiian charter school to strengthen the connection between kūpuna and Native Hawaiian youth. As part of their Language Arts course, ka Papa Lo‘i students at Hālau Kū Māna developed, conducted, video‐recorded, and produced edited tapes on nā mo‘olelo of six kūpuna. Watch our website for more information.
  • Improving the health of Nā Kūpuna: A Dissemination Model Translating Research to Practice in Native Hawaiian Communities: Hā Kūpuna has worked for many years to gather information on the health and well‐being of kūpuna. This dissemination project, originally funded by the HMSA Foundation, was created to share the knowledge gained and to make our website more accessible to kūpuna and their families. We organized professional and community‐based events to share our knowledge and to find out how we can better serve our kūpuna.  We continue to improve our website and remain committed to disseminating findings from our work in both academic and community spaces
  • Data Collection on the Continent: Nearly 40% of Native Hawaiians reside on the continent, and knowledge on their social and health needs is extremely limited. Hā Kūpuna researchers have completed preliminary research to better identify and understand both adversities as well as resiliencies in kūpuna who live in Los Angeles and San Diego, California. We are building on this work by conducting more interviews with kūpuna that live in other parts of the continental United States.
  • Dementia in Native Populations. Hā Kūpuna researchers and graduate students are exploring the prevalence of and evidence‐based interventions for dementia in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian elders. A curriculum for youth caregivers is being developed along with a companion teaching tool for parents, service providers or other significant adults that may know a young person who is providing care to an elder with dementia.