Government Agency Navigation

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Women


In 2009, nearly 300,000 U.S. women (0.24 percent) identified themselves as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, either alone or combined with one or more other races.1 The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population includes a diversity of cultures among people native to Hawai’i, Samoa, Guam, Tonga, Fiji or other Pacific Islands. Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders live throughout the United States, with the largest concentrations in Hawai’i, Alaska, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington.2Although this small population has often been grouped with Asians, masking significant health disparities, more specific data is emerging as a consequence of a federal directive to separate these groups.3

In 2007–2009, non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander women were more likely than non-Hispanic White women to report their health as fair or poor (20.7 versus 13.0 percent, respectively) and to report having been diagnosed with diabetes (11.9 versus 6.4 percent, respectively). Some studies have also shown higher rates of cardiovascular disease and related risk factors among Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders.4 Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander women have the highest rates of reported binge drinking and illicit drug use (27.7 and 17.6 percent, respectively; see Alcohol Use and Illicit Drug Use) and have an HIV diagnosis rate that is 5.5 times higher than non-Hispanic White women (see HIV/AIDS).

Cancer is another condition that disproportionately affects Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander women.5 In 2000–2005, Native Hawaiian women living in Hawaii had higher cancer incidence and mortality rates than their White counterparts both overall and for breast, lung, endometrial, pancreatic, stomach, cervical, and liver cancer. Samoan and Tongan women have also been shown to have high cancer incidence rates.5

As indigenous populations, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders have endured a similar history of disenfranchisement to American Indian/Alaska Natives and share several health issues like substance abuse, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act established Papa Ola Lokahi, an advocacy organization, as well as a health care system and scholarships to address the health needs of Native Hawaiians through culturally appropriate outreach, education, and health care.6

1 U.S. Census Bureau. 2009 American Community Survey – Public Use Microdata Sample. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
2 U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 American Community Survey. Table R0205, Percent of the Total Population Who Are Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone.
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health. Minority Women’s Health: Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Accessed 07/19/11.
4 Mau MK, Sinclair K, Saito EP, Baumhofer KN, Kaholokula JK. Cardiometabolic health disparities in native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Epidemiologic Reviews. 2009;31:113-29.
5 Miller BA, Chu KC, Hankey BF, Ries LA. Cancer incidence and mortality patterns among specific Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S. Cancer Causes & Control. 2008 Apr;19(3):227-56.
6 Native Hawaiian Healthcare.External Web Site Policy Hawaiian Health History. Accessed 07/19/11.



Selected Health Indicators* Among Women Aged 18 and Older, by Race, 2007–2009
Health Indicator Percent of Women
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Women Non-Hispanic White
*Based on self-reports of health status and doctor-diagnosed health conditions; estimates are age-adjusted.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2007–2009. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.
Fair/Poor Health Status 20.7 13.0
Hypertension 14.3 12.4
Diabetes 11.9 6.4
Obesity 19.3 23.2
Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates Among Females (All Ages), by Site and Race, 2000–2005*
Site Rate per 100,000 Females
Incidence Mortality
Native Hawaiian Non-Hispanic White Native Hawaiian Non-Hispanic White
*Includes only residents of Hawaii; estimates are age-adjusted.
Source: Cancer Research Center of Hawai’i. Hawai’i Cancer Facts and Figures 2010. September 2010. Accessed 08/04/11. University of Hawai’i at Manoa, University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, Hawai’i Tumor Registry, Unpublished data.
All Sites 447.8 413.6 171.0 133.6
Breast 157.5 127.5 27.7 21.1
Lung and Bronchus 61.9 47.9 43.3 32.4
Uterine Corpus 38.5 23.0 6.3 2.5
Pancreas 16.2 9.2 14.0 8.1
Stomach 10.9 4.0 7.4 2.2
Cervix 9.6 7.0 4.5 1.8
Liver 6.3 2.0 5.1 2.7

Share this!