These are some of the frequently asked questions by potential participants. Feel free to contact us if you have any more questions.

What’s the goal of the study?

The ultimate objective of the team is to have healthier communities in Hawai'i. One of the main health problems afflicting our communities is the increased prevalence of chronic diseases among Hawaii’s unique populations, including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. We want to understand how such diseases spread and prevent them from spreading. We hope to achieve this in several steps. The main goal of this step is to identify how a community program (MA'O) not specifically designed around health can actually impact the health of individuals, especially in the reduction of obesity and other cardiometabolic disorders.

Why are you focusing in Wai'anae only?

While we intend to have the most comprehensive mapping of socioeconomic and health networks in the state of Hawai'i in order to better understand health disparities, at this stage, we are focusing only on Wai'anae since it has the largest proportion of health disparities in the state. MA'O, our partner in the study, is also focused there and has the largest impact in that community. We hope to expand the study to other areas once feasible, especially in terms of logistics and funding.

Why social networks?

Social and economic networks influence individuals' choices and behaviors that either lead to unhealthy or healthy lifestyles. For instance, socioeconomic networks have been shown to have an effect in a wide range of diseases afflicting communities, including obesity and diabetes to smoking and alcoholism in populations outside Hawai'i. Many of these diseases are prevalent in Hawai'i, in particular within communities comprised of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders. Indeed, obesity-related diseases such diabetes disproportionately affects NHPIs compared with Whites, with a 3-fold higher prevalence and earlier onset. However, the impact of socioeconomic networks on diseases of health disparities in Hawaii has never before been measured. We hope to provide the first measure in the state of Hawai'i.

If I participate in the study, what information will I need to provide?

The five components of the study will be described in the consent form. They include:

  • Questionnaire (online). You will be asked about 90 questions regarding your health habits, behavior, and mental health. These questions include your age, weight, health status and other behaviors.
  • Social Network (online). You will be invited to submit the names and contact information of up to five friends or family members that you interact with the most on a regular or day-to-day basis. These individuals must be 16 years or older. They may be contacted, using the information that you provided, and asked to participate in this study.
  • Health Measurements (by appointment). Your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse will be measured and recorded as part of your questionnaire. Also, we will perform an A1C test. A1C measures your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It will require only a couple drops of blood from your finger. You will be provided with your results after completion. These health measures will be performed by trained staff at your home or by appointment at MA'O or the Community Learning Center at Mā'ili.
  • Gut Microbiome Analysis (at your home). You will be given a stool kit for the collection of your stool sample at your home. You can mail this in to us so we can identify key bacteria in the gut that may be linked to health.
  • Follow-up (in about a year). We want to measure changes you may experience over the course of the study. You may be re-contacted later to repeat this process.

If I participate in the study, how is my information going to be used?

All personal information and samples will be kept confidential. Your information and samples will be given a code number. The list of names and matching code numbers will be kept separate from the other study information. They will be available only to the Principal Investigators. Any results of this study will be summarized in a way that does not identify you personally.

When will I know the results of the study?

We expect to complete the results of this stage in about two years. All participants and the community will be notified of the results. If you decide to participate, you will also receive a mid-study update with preliminary results.

If I decide to participate, what is the benefit to me?

While the results from the research may not provide a direct benefit to you, we expect that your data will provide long-lasting benefits to your community. As a participant:

  1. You will receive up to $40 for your participation in this study: $15 for your participation in the online survey (sent as a gift card by email or mailed to your home) and a $25 card once you participate in the health metrics and provide the stool kit. You will also be eligible for up to additional $40 for your participation in the follow-up study in about a year.
  2. You will also be able to learn the results of this study by a community report.

Who are the sponsors of this project?

This project is mainly funded through the generosity of HMSA Foundation, the foundation arm of the Hawaii Medical Service Association. The Hawaii Community Foundation also contributed the initial seed money that showed the feasibility to run this larger scale project. Other partial support, by the University of Hawai'i (UHERO, Economics, and Native Hawaiian Health) and MA'O Organic Farms is greatly appreciated.

I have more questions. Who can I contact?

Please contact Dr. Ruben Juarez. The preferred method of contact is by email to

I want to participate in this study! Where do I go?

Please go to our secure server at the University of Hawai'i, where all the data is safely stored by clicking here.