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Keywords:

  • community health networks;
  • action research;
  • community participation;
  • culture;
  • Hawaii;
  • organizational case studies;
  • Pacific Islander Americans;
  • social change;
  • social values;
  • technical assistance for health planning

Abstract

In 2000, cancer health indicators for Native Hawaiians were worse than those of other ethnic groups in Hawai'i, and Native Hawaiians were under-represented in research endeavors. To build capacity to reduce cancer health disparities, 'Imi Hale applied principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and empowerment theory. Strategies included: 1) engaging Native Hawaiians in defining cancer priorities; 2) developing culturally appropriate processes and products; 3) supplementing primary and secondary cancer prevention activities; 4) offering skills training and technical assistance; and 5) providing an infrastructure to support culturally appropriate research. Between 2000 and 2005, 'Imi Hale involved more than 8000 Native Hawaiians in education, training, and primary and secondary prevention activities; developed 24 culturally tailored educational products (brochures, curricula, and self-help kits); secured $1.1 million in additional program and research funds; trained 98 indigenous researchers, 79 of whom worked on research projects; and engaged more than 3000 other Native Hawaiians as research participants and advisors. Evidence of empowerment was seen in increased individual competence, enhanced community capacity and participation, reduced barriers, and improved supports to address cancer in Hawaiian communities. Operationalizing CBPR and empowerment requires a commitment to involving as many people as possible, addressing community priorities, following cultural protocol, developing and transferring skills, and supporting an infrastructure to reduce barriers and build supports to sustain change. This approach is time consuming, but necessary for building competence and capacity, especially in indigenous and minority communities. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.