Public Health Pulse (news, events, announcements)

Events Calendar

September 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

Announcements (recent)

  • Please join us on Wednesday (4/29) and Thursday (4/30) to support our students at the Spring 2020 Summit offered via Zoom. Contact Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz via email for complete schedule and Zoom links.

    - Posted 7 months ago

  • The Healthy Hawaiʻi Initiative Evaluation Team, in collaboration with leadership from the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute, and the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, are pleased to announce a Special Issue addressing the intersections between chronic diseases and Covid-19 in our state. 

    The Special Issue, entitled “Roadmap to a healthier and more equitable Hawaiʻi: Solutions to root causes at the intersections of chronic disease and Covid-19” seeks article submissions that make contributions toward systems, environmental, and policy changes, as well as those that discuss or target root causes of health disparities in chronic disease. We are looking for all types of articles, including original articles, reviews, viewpoints, and editorials. Students are also highly encouraged to contribute. 

    To be considered for the Special Issue, please send an unstructured 350-word, or less, abstract to by midnight, October 9, 2020. We aim to publish the Special Issue next summer. 

    Full details available in this PDF.

    - Posted 3 months ago

  • Our public health ‘ohana lost an amazing person recently. Mary was a stellar student, researcher, and person. She earned her Master of Public Health from OPHS in 2013 where she was active in the Hui and in community service. She was research faculty in our department and later worked as a GRA as she pursued her nursing degree. A UH scholarship fund has been created to honor her legacy in public health and nursing: Gifts in memory of Mary Guo can also be made payable to “UH Foundation” with a note or cover letter indicating “Mary Guo Scholarship” which can be sent to UH Foundation, P.O. Box 11270, Honolulu, HI 96828-0270. Some of her research publications can be found here:, and

    - Posted 3 months ago

  • Public health is more important than ever during the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to announce that we have opened applications for Spring 2021 for all of our graduate programs. We will be holding a Graduate Program Information Sessions via Zoom on June 17, July 15, and August 12. It is important that those who plan to apply for Spring 2021 attend one of the information sessions prior to submitting an application.  Please visit our Admissions page for information on how to apply. We look forward to receiving your application!

    - Posted 5 months ago

  • Aloha Public Health Students, You should have received notification from University of Hawai‘i President Lassner about the move to online classes starting Monday, March 23 and the plan to resume in-person classes on Monday, April 13. His message, as well as information on the University’s response to COVID-19, can be found here: You probably have many questions! Please know that the Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS) is actively engaged in contingency planning to support student learning and other key functions in response to COVID-19. To this end, the following information is being provided for your reference. However, as noted in President Lassner’s email, “given the extreme fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, this guidance is subject to change as the situation evolves.”

    The UH Mānoa campus will remain open and housing, library, dining and recreation centers will continue normal operation. This includes OPHSAS and the OPHS Computer Lab. For now, the Hui Lounge will remain open to students as well. You should expect to hear directly from your instructors about what to do for each class and the link to use to access their online courses. Online classes may be synchronous (students and instructor online at the same time) or asynchronous (independent work) or a combination of both. Zoom will be the platform most faculty will use in offering their courses online. Further instructions for using Zoom will be provided shortly. You do not need a Zoom account to join a Zoom meeting/class. If you do not have access to a computer or high speed Internet, please let your instructor or advisor know. Note that a smartphone will work for Zoom. OPHSAS has access to four (4) online Zoom “rooms” that we can use to schedule virtual capstone presentations and dissertation defenses should this become necessary. When not in use for online classes, students may request to reserve these Zoom rooms to meet virtually for group projects or capstone practice sessions through OPHSAS ( following a similar model to our room reservation system. Students scheduled to graduate this spring will practice their capstone presentations online via Zoom in PH 789 to ensure you are prepared to use this format.  Doctoral students graduating this spring should coordinate with their committee chair or faculty advisor to arrange their dissertation defense and/or practice sessions via Zoom.   Please check your email regularly for updates and communication on next steps as the situation continues to be reevaluated and assessed. This uncertainty can be distressing. The following resources are available to you:  The University’s Counseling & Student Development Center (CSDC) offers support to all UHM students to assist with personal, academic and career concerns. All services are confidential and free of charge. For more information, you can visit the CSDC website or call (808) 956-7927.  For COVID-19 specific information, the World Health Organization offered the following guide: Or this from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) office:


    For travel guidance please see

    Stay Informed

    UH COVID-19 web page: UH Travel FAQs: Protect yourself from COVID-19: If you have questions specific to our public health program, please contact Tetine Sentell, Director of OPHS,  If you have questions for the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, please contact Ms. Theresa Kreif, Assistant to the Dean,

    Thanks to the OPHS Leadership Committee and the DSW leadership team for help in crafting this message! 

    Tetine Sentell, PhD Professor and Director Office of Public Health Studies

    - Posted 8 months ago

Events (upcoming)

News (recent)

  • TikTok challenge promotes multi-language COVID-19 messaging

    To provide COVID-19 information and recommendations in Ilocano, Marshallese, Chamorro, ʻōlelo Hawai‘i and other languages, a group of young public health ambassadors are creating videos to help keep Hawaiʻi healthy during the pandemic. The effort arose from the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response, Recovery, and Resilience Team, and is supported by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies, Papa Ola Lōkahi and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health.

    The TikTok-style video challenge was launched by Next Gen Hawaiʻi, a collaboration of organizations involved in the state’s COVID-19 response efforts.

    Many UH Mānoa public health students and graduates have participated.

    “The public health ambassadors bring creative energy to public health messaging around topics such as mask wearing, staying together over distances and flu shots,” said Tetine Sentell, director of the Office of Public Health Studies.

    “They are social influencers with important information to share. We believe this is key to leveraging community strengths and trusted relationships within intergenerational households to promote well-being and healthy behaviors during this stressful time,” Sentell added.

    Next Gen Hawaiʻi

    Next Gen Hawaiʻi public health ambassadors are teens and young adults who create social media content focused on public health awareness and resources in multiple languages spoken in Hawaiʻi. For the remainder of 2020, Next Gen Hawaiʻi will host two TikTok challenges monthly, which will be shared widely.

    “The goal of the Next Gen Hawaiʻi project is to amplify voices of the youth of Hawaiʻi in their languages to support better health in their communities, especially in Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and other communities that have been so impacted by COVID-19,” said Momi Tolentino, communications and community relations assistant at Papa Ola Lōkahi, who is helping run the program.

    “We want to bolster health, a sense of belonging, and in-language outreach to Hawaiʻi communities during COVID-19,” Tolentino added.

    For more information about Next Gen Hawaiʻi, email

    - Posted Friday, November 20

  • New research reveals key steps to fight flavored tobacco

    Restrictions on flavored tobacco products are a great way to promote public health, and these restrictions work best if public health experts form partnerships with tobacco retailers, run intensive media campaigns and advocate for comprehensive bans on the products. That’s according to a study published in Tobacco Control from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies researchers.

    For the study, UH researchers interviewed experts from across the U.S. and Canada who had firsthand experience in passing, implementing or evaluating bans on flavored tobacco products. The researchers then analyzed the interviews for common themes.

    “We wanted to identify the best ways to implement flavored tobacco policies,” said lead author Katey Peck, who was a UH Mānoa public health graduate student at the time of the study. Peck and her co-authors asked experts about the economic impacts, lessons learned and unforeseen consequences of implementing restrictions.

    Study findings

    One key finding was that comprehensive bans on the products were more effective and easier to enforce than partial bans. Partial bans might allow sales of menthol flavored products to continue or sales to proceed at retailers located within a certain distance from schools.

    “The experts agreed that comprehensive bans are better because the rules are simpler. The sale of flavored tobacco products is not allowed, period,” Peck said. “With comprehensive bans, tobacco retailers don’t wind up in situations where they are trying to answer questions from customers.”

    Another important finding was that media campaigns that raise awareness of the health impacts of flavored tobacco products and educate the public on the details of any new policy proposals were essential to successfully implementing new policies.

    “Flavored tobacco products are risky, and the experts we talked to emphasized the importance of providing accurate, factual information to the public about the known risks of these products,” Peck said.

    The experts also said public health advocates should treat tobacco retailers as partners in establishing new policies, rather than as businesses that need to be regulated. Moreover, tapping the knowledge held by retailers, who encounter the tobacco-buying public every day, can help public health advocates to create appropriate educational materials for their local populations.

    “The regulation of flavored tobacco products is a new and growing area of public health,” Peck added. “Our study showed that gathering information from experts and asking them to identify and share their ideas about best practices has potential to improve the implementation and efficacy of flavored tobacco policies.”

    Peck’s co-authors on the study included Rebekah RodericksTetine Sentell and Catherine Pirkle, of UH Mānoa’s Office of Public Health Studies; and Lola Irvin, Lila Johnson, Jill Tamashiro and Lance Ching, of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health.

    - Posted Tuesday, November 10

  • Aloha * Talofa * Yokwe * Kaselehlie * Alii * Hafa adai * Mālō e lelei!

    We are thrilled to announce the start of our Next Gen Hawaiʻi social media project. Our aim is to empower the youth of Hawaiʻi across all languages to support better health in their communities, especially in Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and other communities that have been so impacted by COVID 19. We have been introducing some of our amazing Next Gen Hawaiʻi Public Health Ambassadors and sharing our first messages. 

    For the rest of the year, we will be having 2 Tik Tok messages/challenges a month that can also go out on other social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) focused on spreading public health awareness and in-language resources to youth, including our PI communities, to help bolster health, a sense of belonging, and in-language outreach in the time of COVID-19.

    We are sharing this information with community partners who may wish to amplify these youth voices!

    We would love to have other organizations post and plan to disseminate. We would also love to amplify other relevant projects on our pages, especially other inspirational youth-engagement and empowerment projects and all the amazing work to reach Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and other communities in Hawai‘i. 

    Our primary goal is to get correct information out there in this stressful time about resources, health, and ways to cope to our communities via youth engagement, creativity, and overall awesomeness. We also have an AMAZING poster by Sydney Unciano, Public Health MPH student, to inspire this effort.

    Here are the links: 
    Tik Tok: @nextgenhawaii
    Twitter: @GenHawaii

    We are seeking A FEW MORE Next Gen Hawai‘i Public Health Ambassadors!

    Next Gen Hawai‘i Public Health Ambassadors should be <25 years, live in Hawai‘i, and interested in creating social media content around a public health messages (2 times a month) for the rest of the year. These can be posted on your social media or directly to Next Gen Hawai’i and should be amplified widely. We are still seeking Next Gen Hawai‘i Public Health Ambassadors who speaks Chuukese, Kosraean, Pohnpeian, Palauan, Yapese, Samoan, and/or Tongan.  

    Next Gen Hawai‘i Public Health Ambassadors will receive an honorarium.

    If you are interested in being a Next Gen Hawai‘i Public Health Ambassador, please send an email with brief information about the reason you are interested in helping your community, your social media (IF you want to share this way, not required) and your language skills to by October 30 2020. We will send you more details and can also answer any questions there as well.

    - Posted Wednesday, October 28

  • University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Evaluation Team Remains a Key Partner in Statewide Health Promotion

    For 20 years, faculty and students at the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) at Mānoa’s Office of Public Health Studies have served as external evaluators for the Healthy Hawaiʻi Initiative (HHI), a statewide effort to encourage healthy lifestyles and promote supportive environments, policies, and system changes. The role of the HHI Evaluation Team (HHIET) has evolved over time in response to the changing public health landscape, including broadening its scope to support the entire Chronic Disease and Prevention Health Promotion Division at the Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

    HHI was created by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) in 2000 with tobacco settlement funds, guided by a common vision to make “the healthy choice the easiest choice.” The Initiative also emphasized accessibility to public health data, published research, and evaluation reports, meant to advance its goals and bolster inter-sector partnerships. It thus required an evaluation team to support its goals. 

    To meet this need for research and evaluation, HHIET built an evaluation portfolio focused on reducing tobacco use, addressing physical inactivity, and improving nutrition. In recent years, led by co-PIs Drs. Sentell & Pirkle, HHIET has expanded their evaluation work to include chronic disease management programs and health systems’ strengthening to reflect evolving DOH priorities. They additionally provide support through technical assistance, capacity building, and research surveys. 

    The UH Evaluation Team’s diverse array of projects continues to document the impacts of HHI and foster collaboration between the university and DOH. A recent evaluation of Choose Healthy Now, a HHI point-of-decision prompt campaign in two major convenience store chains, found that the program had been successfully implemented due to the role of mutually beneficial partnerships, leadership buy-in, adaptability to retailer need, and statewide campaign reach. An article detailing the evaluation results, co-authored by DOH and HHIET staff, was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

    Another recent project sought to evaluate implementation of flavored tobacco legislation in other jurisdictions to support planning for a potential statewide ban in Hawai‘i. Interviewing a range of tobacco policy experts across the United States and Canada, the team identified supportive elements spanning four key areas: program planning and legislative preparations; education and community outreach, implementation and enforcement, and determining policy impact. An article co-authored by DOH and HHIET staff was recently published in Tobacco Control

    In response to the emergent COVID-19 pandemic, HHIET maintains its close relationship with DOH and continues its focus on addressing chronic conditions that elevate risk of severe illness, especially for marginalized populations. On the research front, the HHIET is leading a special issue in the Hawaiʻi Journal of Health and Social Welfare that seeks to examine root causes and solutions at the intersections of chronic disease and COVID-19. These efforts coincide with several ongoing evaluations that examine the impacts of COVID-19 on the local food environment and access to healthy and affordable foods.

    For more information, please visit the HHIET website

    - Posted Wednesday, October 21

  • UH experts provide COVID-19 insights to athletic teams

    As the University of Hawaiʻi football team gears up for its 2020 season, and other UH athletic teamsprepare for their seasons to begin, experts from the Department of Mathematics and Office of Public Health Studies spoke to teams about keeping themselves COVID-19 free.

    Professor Monique Chyba and Assistant Professor Thomas Lee shared the latest data on COVID-19 and emphasized the importance of wearing face masks to stop the spread of the virus with student-athletes, coaches and staff.

    “The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff remain our highest priority,” UH Mānoa Athletics Director David Matlin said. “We appreciate the efforts of Professors Monique Chyba and Thomas Lee for sharing their expert knowledge about COVID-19 and reinforcing the importance of stopping the spread of the virus with our teams.”

    Chyba emphasized that although state and county governments have increased testing and contact tracing, compliance from individuals is also important to lower the daily case count. Chyba said that data shows daily counts have been plateauing, however, mathematical models predict this is an atypical situation. Even though the number of cases may drop in one day, it is not time to let your guard down.

    “A big part of my message was to tell them that this is a very unstable situation and that there is no wiggle room,” Chyba said. “It just takes a little spark to bring it back up.”

    “I’m glad that the UH athletics community had the privilege to listen to both Dr. Chyba as well as Dr. Lee,” said Jolie Rasmussen, a senior women’s volleyballstudent-athlete. “Hearing updates about the pandemic directly from an epidemiologist and mathematician was very beneficial as they could provide us with the most factual and up-to-date information regarding the virus. We must continue to do the right actions now to ensure a safe future for tomorrow.”

    Chyba, who teaches many student-athletes in her mathematics courses, said many of them shared with her that they want to get back to playing the sport that they love.

    “They really want to play and they seem to be eager to do what it takes to be able to play,” Chyba said.

    Chyba and Lee are members of the Hawaiʻi Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group.

    Story originally posted at UH News

    - Posted Tuesday, October 20