The difficulties rural-dwelling Native Hawaiian kūpuna (elders) face when seeking healthcare is the focus of a new study conducted by the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
“Our research underlined the appreciation kūpuna felt for providers who took the time to get to know them and respected Hawaiian cultural practices, including traditional healing practices, like lāʻau lapaʻau (Hawaiian herbal medicine) and lomilomi (massage),” said public health PhD student Keilyn Leinaʻala Kawakami, who spearheaded the study.
Kawakami worked in collaboration with Hā Kūpuna, the National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders, funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services, and non-profit ALU LIKE, Inc. to conduct this five-year study.
“The older adults that have been interviewed for this project appreciated being asked to tell their stories,” said Leslie Tanoue, director of Kumu Kahi: Elder Services Department at ALU LIKE, Inc. “They also pointed out needs for additional medical, health and eldercare services in Hawaiian communities on the neighbor islands.”
There were several other key findings from the study. First, most participants had experienced serious chronic diseases that required them to interact with specialists whom they generally had limited access to. Second, the kūpuna exemplified resilience despite limited access to specialty and mental health services in rural communities. Third, the kūpuna would like to see more integration of traditional Hawaiian health care practices and Western practices.
Read more at Hawaii.edu.