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Scott K. Okamoto, PhD

Scott K. Okamoto, PhD
  • Associate Member
    Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor and Research Faculty
    School of Social Work
    Hawaii Pacific University
  • Adjunct Associate Professor
    Department of Psychiatry, Research Division
    John A. Burns School of Medicine
    University of Hawaii at Manoa


  • MSW, San Jose State University
  • PhD (Social Welfare), University of Hawaii at Manoa

Research Focus

Dr. Okamoto's research focuses on the social determinants of health and on developing evidence-based prevention interventions with indigenous and underserved communities. Since 2000, his research has been supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine the social and cultural contexts of substance use (i.e., alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use) for indigenous youth populations, and to translate those findings into culturally focused prevention interventions for those populations. For example, as faculty affiliate with the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center at Arizona State University, he co-led a multidisciplinary research team in the investigation of ecological factors contributing to substance use initiation for urban American Indian youth of the Southwest. These experiences led to a similar line of community-based participatory research focused on rural Hawaiian youth in Hawai'i. In addition to his current program of research, he has also published in the area of social services and systems of care for youth.

Selected Publications

  • Okamoto SK, Kulis S, Helm S, Lauricella M, Valdez JK. (in press). An evaluation of the Ho'ouna Pono curriculum: A pilot study of culturally grounded substance abuse prevention for rural Hawaiian youth. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.
  • Okamoto SK, Helm S, Pel S, McClain LL, Hill AP, Hayashida JKP. (2014). Developing empirically based, culturally grounded drug prevention interventions for indigenous youth populations. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 41(1), 8-19. [PMCID: PMC3595362].
  • Okamoto SK, Kulis S, Helm S, Edwards C, Giroux D. (2014). The social contexts of drug offers and their relationship to drug use of rural Hawaiian youths. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 23(4), 242-252. [PMCID: PMC4029507].
  • Okamoto SK, Kulis S, Marsiglia FF, Holleran Steiker LK, Dustman P. (2014). A continuum of approaches toward developing culturally focused prevention interventions: From adaptation to grounding. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 35(2), 103-112. [PMCID: PMC3943988].
  • Okamoto SK, Helm S, McClain LL, Dinson A. (2012). The development of videos in culturally grounded drug prevention for rural Native Hawaiian youth. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 33(5-6), 259-269. [PMCID: PMC4059543].

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • S. Okamoto, Principal Investigator
    1 R01 DA037836-01A1
    Hawai'i Pacific University
    "The Development and Evaluation of the Ho'ouna Pono Drug Prevention Curriculum"
    04/01/2015 - 03/31/2019
  • S. Okamoto, Principal Investigator
    3 R01 DA037836-01A1S1
    Hawai'i Pacific University
    "Summer Research with NIDA"
    06/01/2015 - 08/15/2015
  • S. Okamoto, Principal Investigator
    5 R34 DA031306-01
    Hawai'i Pacific University
    "The Development of a Video-Enhanced Drug Prevention Program for Rural Native Hawaiian Youth"
    03/01/2011 - 02/28/2015