Translating Diabetes Prevention Into Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities: The PILI 'Ohana Pilot Project


Background. Native Hawaiians (NH) and Other Pacific Islanders (OPI) bear an excess burden of diabetes health disparities. Translation of empirically tested interventions such as the Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Intervention (DPP-LI) offers the potential for reversing these trends. Yet, little is known about how best to translate efficacious interventions into public health practice, particularly among racial/ethnic minority populations. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an approach that engages the community in the research process and has recently been proposed as a means to improve the translation of research into community practice.

Objectives. To address diabetes health disparities in NHOPIs, CBPR approaches were used to: (1) culturally adapt the DPP-LI for NHOPI communities; and (2) implement and examine the effectiveness of the culturally-adapted program to promote weight loss in 5 NHOPI communities.

Methods. Informant interviews (n=15) and focus groups (n=15, with 112 NHOPI participants) were completed to inform the cultural adaptation of the DPP-LI program. A team of 5 community investigators and 1 academic research team collaboratively developed and implemented the 12-week pilot study to assess the effectiveness of the culturally adapted program.

Results. A total of 127 NHOPIs participated in focus groups and informant interviews that resulted in the creation of a significantly modified version of the DPP-LI, entitled the PILI 'Ohana Lifestyle Intervention (POLI). In the pilot study, 239 NHOPIs were enrolled and after 12 weeks (post-program), mean weight loss was -1.5 kg (95%CI -2.0, -1.0) with 26% of participants losing ≥3% of their baseline weight. Mean weight loss among participants who completed all 8 lessons at 12 weeks was significantly higher (-1.8 kg, 95%CI -2.3, -1.3) than participants who completed less than 8 lessons (-0.70 kg, 95%CI -1.1, -0.29).

Conclusion. A fully engaged CBPR approach was successful in translating an evidence based diabetes prevention program into a culturally relevant intervention for NHOPI communities. This pilot study demonstrates that weight loss in high risk minority populations can be achieved over a short period of time using CBPR approaches.