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CDC to Collect Health Data on Native Hawaiians

Posted December 19, 2013, 02:26 PM HST
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The CDC’s new study is expected to significantly increase understanding of Native Hawaiian health issues. Shown above is a patient at Kaheleaulani, a Native Hawaiian health program clinic at North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea. Photo courtesy NHCH.

A new federal effort to collect health data on Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders is expected to provide a much-needed new perspective on their health status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders National Health Survey in February. The survey will collect data on approximately 4,000 households.

The CDC said the findings will be available in the summer of 2015.

Jerris Hedges, dean of the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, described the study as “a huge step forward.”

“In the past, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders were lumped into the same statistical category with other Asian groups, when we know that in fact Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have unique health disparities that need to be addressed,” Hedges said in a statement.

Participation in the study from both Hawaii and mainland residents is expected to provide important new data that could assist health officials in reducing health inequities among the two groups, he said.

Hedges said about half of Native Hawaiians are located in Hawaii.

The 2010 census showed that Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up just 0.4% of the total US population, which makes it difficult to include them in a meaningful way for most national population-based health surveys, he said.

A two-year study completed in September by the UH medical school found significant health differences, including that Native Hawaiians typically die six years earlier than other populations.

Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, deputy assistant secretary for Minority Health in the US Health and Human Services, said the project will represent a significant milestone for the availability and quality of data collected and reported on racial and ethnic minority populations.

The data to be collected will be confidential and used for research and statistical purposes only, the CDC said.

More information about the National Health Interview Survey is available here.

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