Creating Project Talanoa: A Culturally Based Community Health Program for U.S. Pacific Islander Adolescents


  • Barbara Burns McGrath,

    1. Research Associate Professor, Psychosocial and Community Health, School of Nursing, Seattle, Washington
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  • Tevita O. Ka'ili

    1. Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Pacific Islands Studies, International Cultural Studies and World Languages, Brigham Young University Hawai'i, La'ie, Hawai'i
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Barbara Burns McGrath, Psychosocial and Community Health, School of Nursing, Box 357262, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Objective: This is an evaluation of the process and outcome of a research study to determine a culturally targeted health promotion program for U.S. Pacific Islander youth who are at risk for co-occurring problem behaviors, including risky sexual behavior, substance abuse, and interpersonal violence.

Design and Sample: An exploratory design was used and included qualitative interviews (N=54), focus groups (N=16), participant observation (over 3 years), and surveys (N=24) with Pacific Islander adults and youth. After identifying key cultural values and reviewing existing evidence-based prevention interventions, “Project Talanoa” was developed around 4 constructs: (1) cultural identity and pride, (2) teen health, (3) peer relations, and (4) family ties. The program was pilot tested and evaluated by 24 Pacific Islander adolescents (ages 12–15 years).

Results: Results indicate it was culturally appropriate, well liked by the participants, supported by parents and others in the community, and found to be feasible.

Conclusions: Additional research is needed to test it for effectiveness. Project Talanoa provides a model for applying cultural concepts in the development of a risk reduction intervention for adolescents.