Reaching Special Populations

The COE office works to understand the health barriers of medically underserved populations, with a particular emphasis on Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders who experience significant disparities in cancer incidence and mortality compared to other racial/ethnic groups.

Engaging Pacific Islander Populations to Combat COVID-19

working with the micronesian community

In Hawaiʻi, Pacific Islanders represent only 4% of the population, but account for nearly 20% of all COVID-19 cases and 22% of all COVID-19 deaths. The COE office, in collaboration with Puipuia le Ola, a partnership with the University of Guam and other community organizations, recruit Pacific Islander participants to assess knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 and testing to use culturally derived community engagement strategies to increase the reach, access, acceptance, uptake, and sustainability of COVID-19 testing.

Efforts to Increase Screening Among Micronesian Women

working with micronesian women in the community

Many Micronesian women cannot afford health insurance or medical care, and do not get regular health screenings. This has resulted in poor outcomes of breast cancer among Micronesian women. The COE office has developed a program for Micronesian women to educate them about the importance of early detection and to provide breast and cervical cancer screening for low income women who are either uninsured or underinsured.

Promoting Breast Cancer Screening in Tongan Women

Working with Tongan Women in the community

Tongans are often afraid to see the doctor and rely on faith and holistic and home remedies to cure sickness, which results in many women presenting breast cancer in later stages.  Community Health Educators are integrated into Tongan communities to educate and promote breast cancer screening and help schedule mammogram appointments.

Researchers National Impact

AACR Report 2022 cover

The work of the COE office goes beyond Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, with involvement on national committees contributing valuable research from the UH Cancer Center. Faculty Director of the COE office, Kevin Cassel, DrPH, served on the American Association for Cancer Research Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2022 steering committee. This report raises awareness about the enormous toll that cancer places on racial and ethnic minorities, and other medically underserved populations. The UH Cancer Center’s Hawaiʻi Tumor Registry provided the latest cancer data in the report, highlighting the impact of cancer health disparities on Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.