Diabetes and Hypertension in Marshallese Adults: Results from Faith-Based Health Screenings

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2017 Dec;4(6):1042-1050. doi: 10.1007/s40615-016-0308-y. Epub 2016 Nov 11.


Background: The Pacific Islander population in the USA is growing rapidly. However, research on Pacific Islanders in the USA is limited, or sometimes misleading due to aggregation with Asian Americans. This project seeks to add to the dearth of health literature by conducting a health assessment of Marshallese in northwest Arkansas.

Methods: Using a community-based participatory research approach, nine health screening events were conducted at local Marshallese churches. Participants completed the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey core questionnaire and diabetes module if applicable. Biometric data, including Hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, and body mass index, were gathered by an interprofessional team.

Results: Four hundred one participants completed health screenings. High proportions of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension were found. A high percentage of participants were uninsured, and multiple barriers to health care were found within the sample.

Discussion: This project represents one of the first broad health assessments of Pacific Islanders in the USA. Proportions of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and uninsured found in the sample are much higher than national proportions.

Keywords: Diabetes; Faith-based; Health disparities; Hypertension; Migrant; Pacific Islander.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arkansas / epidemiology
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Faith-Based Organizations
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Medically Uninsured / ethnology
  • Medically Uninsured / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data*
  • Obesity / ethnology