We conduct research and evaluation projects for programs and services related to behavioral health, chronic disease, service delivery to rural and underserved communities, and culturally minded interventions. These projects are based on programs developed and implemented by I Ola Lāhui staff and trainees as well as through partnerships with other organizations in need of our support and expertise.

I Ola Lāhui is unique in that our faculty contain doctoral level psychologists with expertise in research methodology as well as cultural and behavioral health practices with a specific emphasis on Native Hawaiians and other medically underserved groups. This combination of skills makes us well suited to play a role in larger efforts to conduct research and evaluation of indigenous health service delivery across a wide variety of problem areas.

Cultural Interventions for Substance Abuse and Mental Health

I Ola Lāhui, in partnership with the University of Hawai‘i School of Social Work, is conducting an evaluation of three programs providing substance abuse and mental health treatment using traditional Hawaiian cultural practices. This first study is primarily descriptive in nature and seeks to identify cultural practices, document the experience of participants, staff, and kupuna (Hawaiian elders), look at overall program performance, and identify next steps in evaluating the effectiveness of these programs. The role of I Ola Lāhui in this evaluation is critical in conducting research in a manner that is acceptable to and respectful of the indigenous people and culture these programs serve.

The COSIG three site cultural intervention study is a perfect example of the type of research project we do where we use our expertise as doctoral level researchers combined with our knowledge and understanding of Native Hawaiian cultural and its use in service provision in clinical settings to conduct research on programs that do intervention based upon a traditional Hawaiian worldview.

Project Background. The Three Site Cultural Evaluation Project is one part of a larger project, the Co- occurring Disorder State Incentive Grant Project (COSIG). The COSIG Project aims to develop and enhance the capacity and infrastructure of the State of Hawaii’s service system to provide integrated, evidence-based treatment services to people who have co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. The COSIG Project includes a program evaluation initiative to identify and describe culturally appropriate Native Hawaiian program interventions for consumers in need of treatment for co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

An integral part of the COSIG’s activities is documentation of effective evidenced-based practices for consumers of co-occurring services through an ongoing quality improvement mechanism. The overall purpose of the proposed Three Site Cultural Evaluation initiative is to provide feedback and descriptions of Native Hawaiian cultural program interventions utilized in treatment settings, to be used in an overall statewide planning effort for the improvement of services for co-occurring substance abuse and mental health treatment.