CDC to collect health data for Native Hawaiians

HONOLULU (AP) — Federal officials are starting a new effort to try to get better health data from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it’s launching a new project with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase the number of households from those groups in a national health interview survey.

The survey will start collecting data in February and include 4,000 households of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The findings will be available in 2015.

The in-person survey asks respondents about health status, access to health care services, insurance and other factors.

CDC officials said it’s difficult to include significant numbers of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in health surveys because they make up less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population.

Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, deputy assistant secretary for minority health for HHS, said the survey is unprecedented and will shed important light on the health status of the groups.

The survey is part of a goal in President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul to advance data collection, Gracia said.

According to the 2012 American Community Survey, a little more than 175,000 people in the United State identified as Native Hawaiian. About 103,000 identified as Samoan, nearly 73,000 identified as Guamanian or Chamorro, and 192,000 identified as “other Pacific Islander.”

Lola Irvin, who manages the chronic disease programs for the Hawaii Department of Health, said the survey would help the state go beyond the data it already collects on the groups.

“It would be really great to see on a national level,” she said.

She said Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations tend to have higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma than other groups in the state.

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