Scott K. Okamoto, PhD

Scott K. Okamoto, PhD, MSW

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Full Member, Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Professor (Researcher), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center
Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Research Division, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

MSW, San Jose State University
PhD, Social Welfare, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

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 Hawaiʻi. 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

Dalisay, F., Pokhrel, P., Santos, J. M., Mori, E., Kawabata, Y., Beltran, Z., Ooka, G., & Okamoto, S. K. (2023). Guam adolescents’ use of strategies to resist tobacco, e-cigarette, and betel nut offers: Findings from a focus group study. Substance Use & Misuse, 58(12), 1580-1586.

Phillips KT, Okamoto SK, Johnson DL, Rosario MH, Manglallan KS, Pokhrel, P. (2021). Correlates of tobacco use among Asian and Pacific Islander youth and young adults in the U.S.: A systematic review of the literature. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 29(5), 440-455. [PMCID: PMC8516062].

Okamoto SK, Helm S, Chin SK, Hata J, Hata E, Okamura KH. (2020). The implementation of a culturally grounded, school-based, drug prevention curriculum in rural Hawai‘i. Journal of Community Psychology, 48(4), 1085-1099. doi:10.1002/jcop.22222. [PMCID: PMC6980923].

Okamoto SK, Kulis S, Helm S, Chin SK, Hata J, Hata E, Lee A. (2019). An efficacy trial of the Hoʻouna Pono drug prevention curriculum: An evaluation of a culturally grounded substance abuse prevention program in rural Hawaiʻi. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 10(3), 239-248. doi: [PMCID: PMC7213509].

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].

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

S. Okamoto, Co-Investigator; Subica, PI
R01 AA030786
"Preventing Alcohol Use Disorders and Alcohol-Related Harms in Pacific Islander Young Adults"
The goal of this study is to refine and test the efficacy of SPEAR (Strategies for Pacific Empowerment and Alcohol Reduction), a novel culturally grounded alcohol use disorder (AUD) prevention intervention for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander young adults.
01/01/2024 – 12/31/2029

S. Okamoto, Mentor, Research Education Component; Baldwin and Buchwald, PIs
P30 AG083263
"Community Health and Aging in Native Groups of Elders Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (CHANGE RCMAR)"
The goal of CHANGE RCMAR is to increase the diversity of investigators conducting research with Native elder populations in the US, defined as American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander people.
09/01/2023 – 08/31/2028

S. Okamoto, Pilot Projects Program Core Director; J. K. Kaholokula, N. Palafox, PIs
U54 GM138062
Center for Pacific Innovations, Knowledge, and Opportunities (PIKO)
The goal of PIKO will be to build a robust clinical and translational research (CTR) infrastructure that directly improves the health and wellbeing of indigenous Pacific People (IPP), defined as Native Hawaiians, Other Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos, and other medically underserved populations.
07/01/2021 – 06/30/2026

S. Okamoto, Co-Investigator, Project 1; N. Palafox, R. Holcombe, PIs
U54 CA143727
“Pacific Island Partnership for Cancer Health Equity (PIPCHE)”
The major goal of PIPCHE is to mitigate the impact of cancer and promote cancer health equity in Pacific Island populations. This goal will be achieved through increasing cancer research leadership and capacity in Hawaiʻi, Guam, and the United States Affiliated Pacific Islands.

Horgen and Okamoto, PIs
U01 GM138435
“An Adaptation and Evaluation of an Entrepreneurial Research Training Model in Hawaiʻi: The HUI SRC”
This dissemination and implementation study proposes to adapt and evaluate a research training model for undergraduate health science students at Hawaiʻi Pacific University.
09/01/2020 – 08/31/2024

S. Okamoto, Co-Investigator; K. Phillips, PI
Contextual Factors of the Risk Environment Surrounding Injection Drug Use: A Real-Time Approach
This study will combine qualitative interviews and a two-week ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol to examine individual and environmental factors associated with high-risk drug use behaviors and related outcomes of injection drug users.
07/01/2022 – 06/30/2024

S. Okamoto, Co-Investigator; A. Subica, PI
R34 MH122641
“Engaging Pacific Islanders in Mental Health Treatment Services”
This study proposes to develop and pilot test Talking Story, an intervention to promote treatment seeking among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
06/01/2020 – 05/30/2024

S. Okamoto, Co-Investigator; A. Subica, PI
R34 DA049989
“Engaging Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment”
This study examines barriers and facilitators for opioid use disorders (OUD) and treatment among Pacific Islanders and pilot tests a culturally adapted intervention to increase OUD treatment engagement.
06/01/2020 – 05/30/2024

S. Okamoto, PI
R34 DA046735
“The Implementation, Adoption, and Sustainability of Hoʻouna Pono”
This study is focused on examining the implementation barriers and strategies of the Hoʻouna Pono drug prevention curriculum on Hawaiʻi Island.
05/01/2019 – 04/31/2024