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CSDE Seminar Series

Population Research Discovery Seminars

The impact of COVID-19 on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander well-being

Michael Spencer, Professor, UW Social Work; Director, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Oceania Affairs


Register for Zoom Seminar HERE


12:30-1:30 PM PT


Population Health Initiative

This lecture focuses on the impact and response of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities to COVID-19 in Washington state. We define who NHPI are, why NHPI are a significant population of study, and how an understanding of settler colonialism may explain observed inequities in NHPI communities.  Our work is grounded in community-based participatory research principles and guided by the practices and values embedded within NHPI culture.

Dr. Spencer is a Native Hawaiian (Kānaka ‘Ōiwi) researcher and currently serves as the Presidential Term Professor of Social Work and Director of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Oceania Affairs at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI). His current research focus is health equity among Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) populations. Using national data, local data, or community-driven data, Dr. Spencer is interested in understanding both the impact of racism and settler colonial society on NHOPI, he also seeks solutions through participatory interventions. This research is grounded in indigenous cultural practices and values that promote health and wellbeing. For over 25 years, his research with African American, Latinx, Asian, as well as NHOPI communities, in the areas of health and mental health has been funded by numerous federal grants and his scholarly work has been published in high impact medical, public health, social work, and interdisciplinary journals. This work includes two randomized controlled trials demonstrating the effectiveness of a culturally tailored, community health worker intervention (CHW) for African American and Latinx patients with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Spencer’s current research relates to the impact of COVID-19 on the health and economic wellbeing of NHOPI in Washington. A goal of Dr. Spencer is to develop a national data set for NHOPI on health, mental health, and service delivery needs.