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Weaving Samoan culture and Western methods to increase capacity

(l-r) ASCCC treasurer Christinna Lutu-Sanchez, Akenese Maifea, Faaeteete Sio, Meleseini Siufanua, ASCCC chairman Taotasi Archie Soliai, and board member Dr. Jueta McCutchan.
Source: ASCCC media release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Community Cancer Coalition’s (ASCCC or Cancer Coalition) Indigenous Samoan Partnership to Initiate Research Excellence (INSPIRE) program has published its first article in the British Journal of Social Work. The article titled “Research Capacity Strengthening in American Samoa, Fa’avaeina le Fa’atelega o le Tomai Sa’ili’ili i Amerika Samoa” discusses the innovations needed between Samoan culture and Western knowledge to improve research capacity.  

These innovations are accomplished through specific aims including building a research hub, providing training for indigenous researchers, and assessing the colorectal cancer health literacy of those 45 years old and older.

Included in the article was a conceptual model of these aims depicted by Le Fale o So’ofa’atasiga, or the house of research. The Samoan fale represents the community gathering place. The structural components are woven into Westernized concepts that undergird research capacity in American Samoa. An important function to help bridge the gap among community-based research and projects that are initiated off island.

“We are extremely excited for this publication”, said Va’a Tofaeono, program director for INSPIRE. “We have spent the last three years building our program and collecting data. Now to see what we had started come full circle in this first article is a true accomplishment.”

The INSPIRE program is funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and Dr. Victor Tofaeono and Luana Yoshikawa-Scanlan are co-principal investigators. The program has established partnerships with the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Vanguard University, the American Samoa Community College’s Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and Build Exito, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Tropical Medical Center.

More recently the program hosted its first symposium in October of 2019 to share results from the pilot colorectal cancer health literacy study. “This is our first article and we expect more in 2020. I would like to extend our appreciation to our co-investigators Drs. Lana Sue Ka’opua, Angela Sy, Katherine Tong, and Kevin Cassel for their guidance and to the ASCCC Board of Directors who continue to support our efforts,” Tofaeono said.

Access to the article can be obtained through the following link: