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RTIPs Meet-up with Kathryn Braun and Kukui Ahi

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I am so delighted that our intervention, Kukui Ahi has been addd to the RTIPs repository

Kukui Ahi  is a Hawaiian phrase meaning to show the way. This patient navigator program was affiliated with the ‘Imi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network, a CNP based at Papa Ola Lokahi, a community agency in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. ‘Imi Hale helped write grant proposals to support PN on the island of Moloka‘i because 60% of the residents of this small rural island are Native Hawaiian and experience multiple barriers to care.

Initially funded in 2006 through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kukui Ahi now is supported by Health Resources and Services Administration, NCI (through ‘Imi Hale), and The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. Kukui Ahi’s Native Hawaiian and Filipino navigators have at least high school diplomas, have completed ‘Imi Hale’s 48-hour navigator training and participate in continuing education. Between 2006 and 2010, navigators assisted 154 Medicare-eligible Moloka‘i residents to cancer screening and 88 cancer patients (regardless of age and insurance status) with diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life care.

Kukui Ahi navigators report major changes in receptivity to screening. In Hawaiian culture, there is a belief that saying the word cancer may bring it on and that cancer screening procedures are painful. Hence, elders initially were reluctant to discuss cancer or participate in screening. This was overcome by continuous outreach and education and finding those elders willing to “take a leap of faith to get screened.” Of course, the majority of those screened did not have or get cancer. Elders then communicated to others that the procedures were “not so bad.” Men were especially surprised at the ease of the PSA test.

Recruiting, training, and retaining individuals from underserved communities to carry out these tasks can help reduce the cancer health disparities experienced by poor and underserved individuals in the U.S. 


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