Kaholokula, Joseph Keawe'aimoku PhD

Core Co-Director - Community-Based Research HEALTH Initiative Leader - Nutrition & Metabolic
Chair, Department of Native Hawaiian Health
John A Burns School of Medicine


Research Overview

2011-2012 RMATRIX Collaboration Pilot Projects Program Awards

Project Description

Title: PILI ’Aina Project: Partnerships to Overcome Obesity Disparities in Hawaii
Principal Investigator: J. Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, PhD, Department of Native Hawaiian Health, UH JABSOM
Collaborator: Claire Hughes, PhD, Hawai’i Maoli - Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs
Collaborator: Bridget Kekauoha, Kula No Na Po’e Hawai’i, Papakolea Hawaiian Homestead Community
Collaborator: Donna Palakiko, RN, MS, Ke Ola Mamo Native Hawaiian Health Care System
Collaborator: Sheryl Yoshimura, MPH, RD, Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services
RMATRIX HEALTH Initiative(s): Nutrition & Metabolic
RMATRIX Key Function Support: Research Design & Biostatistics; Research Ethics, Regulatory Knowledge & Support; Multidisciplinary Research Education, Training & Career Development
RMATRIX Funding: $30,000
External Link:


PILI ’Aina Project: Partnerships to Overcome Obesity Disparities in Hawaii

Overweight/obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and Hawai’i, especially in Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations. This grant application, submitted to the RMATRIX Collaboration Pilot Projects Program, is a multi-disciplinary (i.e., clinician/behavioral scientist, nutritionists/dieticians, and a public health nurse) community-based participatory research (CBPR) project to test a culturally-relevant lifestyle intervention targeting overweight/obese Native Hawaiians (NHs) and other Pacific Islanders (PIs). The CBPR community-academic partnership for this project, called the PILI ’Aina Project, is comprised of a JABSOM clinical department and 4 community organizations serving NHs/PIs. The aim of this CBPR study is to pilot test whether a lifestyle intervention combined with home gardening (called PILI ’Aina Program) is more effective in improving weight loss maintenance versus the same intervention delivered alone (called PILI ’Ohana Program) in NHs/PIs. The PILI ’Ohana Program has already demonstrated efficacy in helping NHs/PIs lose excessive weight and keep it off. The addition of home gardening of fruits/vegetables to this lifestyle intervention could enhance its effects by 1) increasing fruits/vegetable consumption and 2) improving sustained weight loss. The two lifestyle interventions being tested in this study will be community-based and delivered by community peer educators. The use of a CBPR approach can 1) expedite the translation of empirically-supported obesity interventions and strategies into real world settings, 2) build the capacity of NH/PI communities in developing, testing, and delivering health interventions, and 3) build the research infrastructure of NH/PI communities needed for translational research and partnering with academic-based scientists. The findings from this pilot study will be used to seek further NIH funding to further test promising culturally-relevant, community-based obesity interventions targeting NHs/PIs.


2011-2012 RMATRIX Collaboration Pilot Projects Program Awards

Project Description

Title: Discrimination and Substance Abuse Among Adolescents in Hawaii
Principal Investigator: Thomas Wills, PhD, Prevention & Control Program, UH Cancer Center
Co-Principal Investigator: J. Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, PhD, Dept. of Native Hawaiian Health, UH JABSOM
Collaborator: Frederick Gibbons, PhD, Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College
RMATRIX HEALTH Initiative(s): Cancer; Aging & Neurocognitive Health
RMATRIX Funding: $30,000


Discrimination and Substance Abuse Among Adolescents in Hawaii

Health disparities are observed in the population of the state of Hawaii, with particularly elevated rates of morbidity and mortality for Native Hawaiian adults. The basis for these health disparities is believed to originate at earlier ages and involve factors such as psychosocial stress and possibly ethnic discrimination, but there has been little research conducted with young people in Hawaii to address this question. The proposed project, a collaboration between the Prevention and Control Program in the UH Cancer Center and the Native Hawaiian Health Department in JABSOM, is based on preliminary data indicating that Native Hawaiian and Filipino adolescents have elevated rates of cigarette smoking and marijuana use compared with Caucasians or Asian-Americans. We hypothesize that discrimination possibly in combination with other life stressors is involved in the substance use differential. There has been no research we know of on discrimination among local adolescents, so we propose both qualitative and quantitative studies. In the first phase we will conduct focus groups with Native Hawaiian, Filipino, and Asian American adolescents (6 groups, total N = 60 participants) to elicit their perceptions of how discrimination occurs in Hawaii and how people may respond to it. We will use the focus group results to review existing measures of racial/ethnic discrimination and select three measures (possibly with some modifications) for use in a survey. In the second phase we will administer a survey including measures of discrimination and substance use to a sample of students in Honolulu public high schools (N = 1,200 participants). The results will be analyzed to determine the relation of discrimination to substance use and study how its effects are mediated. We anticipate the findings will be used to develop an R01 application with a larger sample from different areas of Hawaii.

Selected Publications

  • Hebert JR, Braun KL, Kaholokula JK, Armstead CA, Burch JB, Thompson B.
    Considering the Role of Stress in Populations of High-Risk, Underserved Community Networks Program Centers.
    Prog Community Health Partnersh 2015 [more...]

  • 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...]

  • Look MA, Kaholokula JK, Carvhalo A, Seto T, de Silva M.
    Developing a culturally based cardiac rehabilitation program: the HELA study.
    Prog Community Health Partnersh 2012 [more...]

  • Mau MK, Keawe'aimoku Kaholokula J, West MR, Leake A, Efird JT, Rose C, Palakiko DM, Yoshimura S, Kekauoha PB, Gomes H.
    Translating diabetes prevention into native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities: the PILI 'Ohana Pilot project.
    Prog Community Health Partnersh 2010 [more...]

  • Nacapoy AH, Kaholokula JK, West MR, Dillard AY, Leake A, Kekauoha BP, Palakiko DM, Siu A, Mosier SW, Marjorie KM, Mau M, Rose C, Gomes H, Yoshimura SR, Leake A, Kekauoha BP, Dillard A, Palakiko D, Siu A, Wang J, Macabeo A, Jamais A, Lum K, Patu M, Kaholokula JK, West M, Nacapoy A, Abbott H, Mosier S, Kent S, Efird JT, Bith-Melander P, Kimata C, Dang K, Sinclair K, Saito E, Texeira K.
    Partnerships to address obesity disparities in Hawai'i: the PILI 'Ohana Project.
    Hawaii Med J 2008 [more...]

15 January 2019:
Health Disparities Pilot Grant Funding Opportunity


The purpose of this funding opportunity is to provide promising early career investigators with support to capture the key preliminary …

15 January 2019:
Multi-Site Pilot Project (MSPP) Funding Opportunity

Mountain West Clinical Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) – Multi-Site Pilot Project (MSPP) Funding Opportunity


15 January 2019:
Save-the-Date: 2019 Health Disparities Research Institute (HDRI)

Save-the-Date: 2019 Health Disparities Research Institute (HDRI)

August 12-16, 2019

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Dispari…

View more news...

Seminars & Events
18 October 2018, 11:00am - 2:00pm:
Data Security & Privacy
06 September 2018, 11:30am - 1:00pm:
Ola HAWAII Forum - Brown Bag Session
18 April 2018, 8am:

View more seminars & events...

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