Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research Hawaii Diabetes Study to Examine Health Disparities in Asian and Pacific Islanders

Study to specify disease impacts in 10 distinct ethnic and mixed race groups

Press Release

HONOLULU —Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Hawaii has launched an innovative $1.5-million, three-year study that will provide valuable new information on the prevalence of diabetes and the factors contributing to differences in outcomes among specific population groups of Asians, Pacific Islanders and mixed-race individuals.

Led by Beth Waitzfelder, MD, PhD, a sociologist with Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research Hawaii, the study is unique in that – for the first time – diabetes will be studied and key differences identified among 10 distinct population groups living in Hawaii: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Samoan, mixed Asian-Caucasian, mixed Asian-Hawaiian, mixed Hawaiian-Caucasian and mixed Asian-Hawaiian-Caucasian. A Caucasian-only group will also be included for comparison purposes.

“The irony is that these populations are rapidly growing and have disproportionately high rates of diabetes, yet they are among the least studied populations in terms of understanding differences in diabetes prevalence and outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease,” said Dr. Waitzfelder. “Our ultimate goal is to uncover vital underlying information that will help improve outcomes of diabetes within these groups, either helping people to avoid complications altogether or delaying their onset.”

Dr. Waitzfelder noted that previous diabetes studies done on Asians and Pacific Islanders often lumped these populations into one heterogeneous category, potentially blurring important differences among these groups. The study, which began July 15 and is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders, will evaluate how patient characteristics such as culture, education and income, as well as treatment factors and environment contribute to differences in diabetes outcomes among the 10 study populations.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders increased in the United States by 43 percent and 35 percent respectively since 2000, making them the fasting growing populations in the country.

Over the next three years, the researchers will review information from Kaiser Permanente’s leading-edge electronic medical record system and conduct a large-scale patient survey among people within the 10 identified groups to assess differences in diabetes prevalence and outcomes; and identify the most important individual, treatment and environmental factors associated with differences among these populations. Patients will not be identified in study results and personal information will be kept confidential.

Research for the study is being conducted by the Center for Health Research, Hawaii, a non-profit institute within Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s integrated health care system whose strategic focus is to “advance knowledge to improve health of diverse populations.” CHRH focuses on research issues uniquely suited to its position within a large integrated health care system serving an extraordinarily ethnically diverse, defined population.

About the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research
The Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, founded in 1964, is a nonprofit research institution dedicated to advancing knowledge to improve health. It has research sites in Portland, Ore., Honolulu and Atlanta. Visit kpchr.org for more information

About Kaiser Permanente Hawaii
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has provided total health to the people of Hawaii for more than 50 years, with physicians who are members of the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, the largest multi-specialty physician group practice in the state of Hawaii. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. Visit kp.org for additional information, become a fan of good health at Facebook.com/KPHawaii or follow @KPHawaii on Twitter.