A Qualitative Exploration of Health and Cancer-Related Experiences Among Native Hawaiian Adults


  • Jade Ching University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
  • Mapuana C. K. Antonio Native Hawaiian & Indigenous Health, Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7227-6530


Cancer, health care, family, experiences, coping, stress, social-ecological model, resilience


Cancer disproportionately affects the Native Hawaiian community. Understanding health and cancer-related experiences of Native Hawaiian adults may inform effective health interventions to improve quality of life for cancer survivors in this community. Qualitative methodologies guided the exploration of health and cancer-related experiences from the perspectives of four Native Hawaiian adults with cancer experiences and three Native Hawaiian adults without cancer-related experiences (n = 7). Based on the Social-Ecological Model, four core themes emerged: (1) Individual health including an understanding of health and responsibility for individual health; (2) Social support; (3) Knowing there are options; and (4) Spirituality and reflections of the Native Hawaiian community. This study provided strong evidence that family has a substantial role in the perspectives of health for Native Hawaiians. Participants with cancer-related experiences reported resilience, coped with medical adversities in positive ways, expressed a deeper appreciation for life, and relied heavily on Akua and spirituality compared to those without cancer-related experiences. Based on the findings, cancer programs that honor Native Hawaiian perspectives of health, family, and cultural values in healthcare may play a central role in cancer prevention and treatment, reducing overall cancer burden in this community. Findings contribute to literature focusing on familial and cultural components of Native Hawaiian health in the context of cancer care. Despite the remarkable growth in literature on Native Hawaiian and Pacific health, cancer burden remains high. Future directions include better alignment of research with culture and Native Hawaiian worldviews of health that may enhance overall quality of life.


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