Lana Sue Ka'opua, PhD, DCSW, LSW

Lana Sue Ka'opua, PhD, DCSW, LSW

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Associate Member, Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Professor, Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Chair, MSW Health Specialization and Practice Sequence, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

PhD, Social Welfare, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
MSW, Social Work, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
DCSW, Diplomate in Clinical Social Work, National Association of Social Workers Certifications
LSW, Licensed Social Worker, Hawaiʻi State License

Research Focus

Overview of Research-Scholarship
Promoting social justice in the arena of health equity is the overarching goal of my research and scholarship agenda. Advancing culturally-grounded, evidence-informed, psycho-social interventions to promote health through the elimination of cancer and other health disparities is the overall aim. Phenomena of interest include: coping with illness and disability, resiliency factors such as those grounded in culture and spirituality, and health behaviors such as participation in early detection screening and treatment adherence. Taking into account the ecological focus of social work practice and social welfare research, my efforts focus on individual behavior in the context of couple, family, community, and professional networks. Also of concern are health systems that lack resource infrastructure (e.g., trained personnel, technology) which are associated with less than optimal health outcomes among those living in medically under-served communities. Multiple methods, including both qualitative and quantitative strategies are used, depending on the research question. Inquiries are guided by Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) principles and approaches. CBPR emphasizes research for and with those affected and includes attention to meaningful involvement of academic researchers and the communities that they serve. Mutuality in learning and dialogue with community partners across the research trajectory are stressed.

Selected Publications

Ka'opua LS, Tamang S, Dillard A, Kehauoha BP. (2017). Decolonizing knowledge development in health research. Cultural safety through the lens of Hawaiian Homestead residents. Journal of Indigenous Social Development, 5 (2), 20-42.

Browne CV, Ka'opua LS, Jervis LL, Alboroto R, Trockman ML. (2016). United States indigenous populations and dementia: Is there a case for culture-based psychosocial interventions? Gerontologist [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 27048710 DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnw059

Ka'opua LS, Goodyear-Ka'ōpua JN, Ka'awa JM, Amona SK, Browne CV, Robles AS. (2016). Look to the source: gathering elder stories as segue to youth action-oriented research. International Public Health Journal, 8 (2),271-281.

Ka'opua LSI, Cassel, K, Shiramizu B, Stotzer RL,Robles A, Kapua C, Orton M, Milne C, Sesepasara M.(2015). Addressing risk and reluctance at the nexus of HIV and anal cancer screening. Health Promotion Practice, 17 (1), 21-30. DOI: 10.1177/1524839915615611. PMID 26630979, PMC 4684716.

Stotzer, RL, Ka'opua LS, Diaz, TP. (2014). Is Healthcare Caring in Hawai'i? Preliminary Results from a Health Assessment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex People in Four Counties. Hawai'i Journal of Medicine and Public Health. A Journal of Asia Pacific Medicine & Public Health, 76, 6 (175-80). PMID: 24959391 PMCID: PMC4064342.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

L.S. Ka'opua, Co-Investigator / B. Shiramizu, PI
Co-infection with HIV and the human papillomavirus are risk factors for anal neoplasia. This research explores the unique role of HIV in pathogenesis and involves sample of HIV sero-discordant couples.
06/2017 - current

L.S. Ka'opua, Co-Investigator / V. Tofaeono & L. Scanlan, PIs
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
"Indigenous Samoan Partnership to Initiate Research Excellence (INSPIRE)"-CRC Literacyseeks to reduce avoidable colorectal cancer mortality. Aims are to: develop and enhance research infrastructure that improves acquisition, management, analysis, and dissemination of data and knowledge in colorectal cancer research with/for the U.S. Territory of American Samoa.
07/01/16 – 06/30/2021

L.S. Ka'opua, Researcher (2010-current), Co-Director (2015-current) / N. Mokuau, PI
DHHS 90010006
"Hā Kūpuna, the National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders" – is one of three National Resource Centers for Native Elders funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), Department of Health and Human Services. Through research, resource development, and training, Hā Kūpuna seeks to improve health and well-being of Native Hawaiian elders and their family members.
07/01/15 – 06/30/2020