Native Hawaiian Parents Often Report Uncertainty Regarding Their Child’s Asthma Care

Pediatric asthma, doctor, parent
Pediatric asthma, doctor, parent
Contextual influences including indigenous worldview and cultural values affected native Hawaiian parents’ perceptions and experiences with conventional asthma care.

Several native Hawaiian parents who have a child with asthma report uncertainty regarding the best health management strategies to choose for their child, according to research results published in Asian/Pacific Island Nursing Journal.

Native Hawaiian parents participated in focus groups in which they responded to 8 open-ended questions discussing asthma history, asthma management, and how they believed Hawaiian culture affected their health practices. Overall, a total of 33 native Hawaiian parents with a child with asthma participated in 9 separate focus groups. The groups were conducted between 2012 and 2015 on the Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Lāna’i islands.

Many native Hawaiian parents across all islands expressed uncertainty regarding management approaches to their child’s asthma. This was primarily attributed to the lack of information parents received regarding the disorder. Parents who lived outside of metropolitan O’ahu also reported that geographic barriers contributed to their feeling of uncertainty. None of the parents reported challenges in processing information about asthma care.

A small number of single fathers (n=2) reported gratitude toward their ‘ohana (family) for providing for their child’s asthma treatment. There were a few parents who reported seeking out naturopaths or chiropractors because they wanted a more “natural” approach to their child’s care. The primary social support of parents with a child with asthma was the ‘ohana.

The main study limitation was the inclusion of only native Hawaiian parents, which may result in reduced generalizability among non-native individuals living on the islands.

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The study’s researchers suggest that nurses “are encouraged to become more politically active and lobby the federal, state, and county governments to deliver comprehensive medical services and educational and supportive programs for families living on all islands” in Hawaii.


Kealoha MK, Sinclair SL, Richardson KK. Mālama nā makua i nā keiki me ka hānō: native Hawaiian parents caring for their children with asthma (part 2). Asian Pac Isl Nurs J. 2019;4(3):97-107.