Townsend, Claire DrPH

Pilot Project PI
Assistant Professor
Department of Native Hawaiian Health
John A. Burns School of Medicine
University of Hawai’i at Manoa

(808) 692-1042

Research Overview

2015-2016 & 2016-2017 RMATRIX Collaboration Pilot Projects Program Awards

Project Description

Title: Feasibility Testing of a Culturally-Tailored, Web-Based Weight Loss Program for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Peoples
Multiple Principal Investigators: Seunghye Hong, PhD & Claire Townsend, DrPH
RMATRIX HEALTH Initiative(s): Nutrition & Metabolic Health
RMATRIX Core Support: Collaborations & Partnerships, Professional Development, Biostatistics & Health Sciences Data Analytics, Community-Based Participatory Research, Regulatory Knowledge & Support


Obesity and related comorbidities (e.g., diabetes and heart disease) are major public health problems in the U.S. and have reached alarming rates. The urgency to address obesity is even greater in Native Hawaiian and other Pacific People (NH/PPs) communities, where the burden is disproportionately high. The effectiveness of weight loss interventions is established; however, the reach of these interventions remains limited because of barriers to accessing traditional face-to-face interventions (e.g., time constraints), leading to an interest in other delivery modes. Everyday technology, such as the internet, offers the ability to access to a large number of people at minimal cost. Internet-based weight loss programs have succeeded in achieving significant participant weight loss among various ethnic and racial groups including Whites, Blacks, and Latinos. To date, however, there are no culturally-tailored, internet-based, weight loss interventions for NH/PPs. This project will adapt a culturally-tailored, evidence-based weight loss intervention to the internet and conduct a feasibility test of this new intervention delivery method in NH/PPs. To respond to obesity, and obesity-related, health disparities, it is imperative to develop innovative methods to reach multiple segments of the population. Adapting a culturally-tailored, empirically-supported weight loss intervention for NH/PPs to the internet is one such innovation. This project will provide preliminary data on participant recruitment, enrollment, and engagement strategies specific to web-based interventions in NH/PPs, and the feasibility of such an intervention at affecting weight loss in participants. The data can serve as an evidence base to inform future extramural funding proposals to conduct further modifications of an internet-based weight loss intervention for NH/PPs and test this intervention via a randomized controlled trial.

Selected Publications

  • Kaholokula JK, Wilson RE, Townsend CK, Zhang GX, Chen J, Yoshimura SR, Dillard A, Yokota JW, Palakiko DM, Gamiao S, Hughes CK, Kekauoha BK, Mau MK.
    Translating the Diabetes Prevention Program in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities: the PILI 'Ohana Project.
    Transl Behav Med 2014 [more...]

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Supported by a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (U54MD007584), National Institutes of Health.