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Lana Sue Ka'opua, PhD, DCSW, LSW

Lana Sue Ka'opua, PhD, ACSW
  • Associate Member
    Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific section)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Professor
    Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Chair
    MSW Health Specialization and Practice Sequence
    University of Hawaii at Manoa


  • PhD, Social Welfare
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • MSW, Social Work
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • DCSW, Diplomate in Clinical Social Work
    National Association of Social Workers Certifications
  • LSW, Licensed Social Worker
    Hawaii State License

Research Focus

Overview of Research-Scholarship
Promoting social justice in the arena of health equity is the overarching goal of my research and scholarship agenda. Advancing culturally-grounded, evidence-informed, psycho-social interventions to promote health through the elimination of cancer and other health disparities is the overall aim. Phenomena of interest include: coping with illness and disability, resiliency factors such as those grounded in culture and spirituality, and health behaviors such as participation in early detection screening and treatment adherence. Taking into account the ecological focus of social work practice and social welfare research, my efforts focus on individual behavior in the context of couple, family, community, and professional networks. Also of concern are health systems that lack resource infrastructure (e.g., trained personnel, technology) which are associated with less than optimal health outcomes among those living in medically under-served communities. Multiple methods, including both qualitative and quantitative strategies are used, depending on the research question. Inquiries are guided by Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) principles and approaches. CBPR emphasizes research for and with those affected and includes attention to meaningful involvement of academic researchers and the communities that they serve. Mutuality in learning and dialogue with community partners across the research trajectory are stressed.

Selected Publications

  • Ka'opua LS, Tamang S, Dillard A, Kehauoha BP. (2017). Decolonizing knowledge development in health research. Cultural safety through the lens of Hawaiian Homestead residents. Journal of Indigenous Social Development, 5 (2), 20-42.
  • Browne CV, Ka'opua LS, Jervis LL, Alboroto R, Trockman ML. (2016). United States indigenous populations and dementia: Is there a case for culture-based psychosocial interventions? Gerontologist [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 27048710 DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnw059
  • Ka'opua LS, Goodyear-Ka'ōpua JN, Ka'awa 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),271-281.
  • Ka'opua LSI, Cassel, K, Shiramizu B, Stotzer RL,Robles A, Kapua C, Orton M, Milne C, Sesepasara M.(2015). Addressing risk and reluctance at the nexus of HIV and anal cancer screening. Health Promotion Practice, 17 (1), 21-30. DOI: 10.1177/1524839915615611. PMID 26630979, PMC 4684716.
  • Stotzer, RL, Ka'opua LS, Diaz, TP. (2014). Is Healthcare Caring in Hawai'i? Preliminary Results from a Health Assessment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex People in Four Counties. Hawai'i Journal of Medicine and Public Health. A Journal of Asia Pacific Medicine & Public Health, 76, 6 (175-80). PMID: 24959391 PMCID: PMC4064342.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • L.S. Ka'opua, Co-Investigator / B. Shiramizu, PI
    Co-infection with HIV and the human papillomavirus are risk factors for anal neoplasia. This research explores the unique role of HIV in pathogenesis and involves sample of HIV sero-discordant couples.
    06/2017 - current
  • L.S. Ka'opua, Co-Investigator / V. Tofaeono & L. Scanlan, PIs
    National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
    "INdigenous Samoan Partnership to Initiate Research Excellence (INSPIRE)"-CRC Literacyseeks to reduce avoidable colorectal cancer mortality. Aims are to: develop and enhance research infrastructure that improves acquisition, management, analysis, and dissemination of data and knowledge in colorectal cancer research with/for the U.S. Territory of American Samoa.
    07/01/16 – 06/30/2021
  • L.S. Ka'opua, Researcher (2010-current), Co-Director (2015-current) / N. Mokuau, PI
    U.S. ACL
    DHHS 90010006
    "Hā Kūpuna, the National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders" – is one of three National Resource Centers for Native Elders funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), Department of Health and Human Services. Through research, resource development, and training, Hā Kūpuna seeks to improve health and well-being of Native Hawaiian elders and their family members.
    07/01/15 – 06/30/2020