Claire Townsend Ing

In Funded Scholars
Claire Ing


Townsend Ing

Assistant Professor
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, John A Burns School of Medicine

Professional Bio

Dr. Townsend Ing is an assistant professor at the Department of Native Hawaiian Health in the John A Burns School of Medicine. She has long held academic and research interests in health disparities informed by a social determinants framework. She was awarded a B.A. in Anthropology from Pomona College, a M.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Education from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Dr.P.H. in Community-based and Translational Research from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Dr. Ing has coordinated several community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects at the Department of Native Hawaiian Health. Notable among these is the NIH-funded Partnerships to Improve Lifestyle Interventions (PILI) ‘Ohana Project, is a NIMHD-funded, CBPR initiative by the PILI ‘Ohana Partnership (POP) to address obesity and related disparities in Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Peoples. The POP developed and tested two culturally-congruent, community-placed, evidence-based health promotion programs and is currently working to disseminate these interventions to community-based organizations across the State. Additionally, Dr. Ing is working to build her research in the field of health disparities has several successfully funded pilot CBPR projects. These projects included testing the effectiveness of a semi-structured social support group in maintaining or improving diabetes management, a homestead health survey, and working to adapt the POP healthy lifestyle intervention for web-based delivery.

Project Description

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, with hypertension (HTN) as its most common risk factor. These trends are also present in the state of Hawai‘i with over one third of all deaths being attributable to CVD and a high prevalence of HTN. Native Hawaiians (NH), the indigenous people of Hawai‘i, suffer from a disproportionate burden of CVD and HTN. Native Hawaiians die from CVD at the average ages of 65.2 for males and 72.3 for females, compared to 73.1 and 79.6 statewide, respectively. The relationship between “traditional” behavioral risk factors (e.g., physical activity, diet, tobacco use) and HTN/CVD risk is well established. There is an increasing recognition that psychosocial (e.g., discrimination, stress) and sociocultural (e.g., acculturation, employment) factors are also important in determining HTN and CVD risk. However, little is known about how these factors influence HTN and CVD risk in NH communities. This research will identify and examine psychosocial and sociocultural factors that influence HTN and CVD risk in NH. This examination will account for traditional biological and behavioral factors, allowing us to partition out the relative impact these “non-traditional” factors have on HTN and CVD risk. Despite the increasing awareness of the importance of “non-traditional” factors and the health inequities experienced by NH, there has not been a comprehensive study of how these factors influence HTN and CVD risk. Addressing this gap in knowledge will result in an improved understanding of psychosocial and sociocultural determinants in NH and multiethnic communities and enable us to design more effective, wide-ranging interventions. These interventions will strive to comprehensively address behavioral, sociocultural, and psychosocial risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, working to create a culture of health across NH communities.

Why did you apply to New Connections

I am a junior investigator who is working to establish herself in the field of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Health disparities. My research training objectives are to: 1) improve my ability to conduct methodologically sound research; 2) develop an independent research program informed by a social determinants of health framework; and 3) translate research findings into effective health promotion programs and policies. The New Connections program will provide me with the research experience, mentoring, and networking connections to become an independently funded researcher with the goal of addressing health inequities in Hawaii and across the U.S. Pacific. I will be exposed to professionals across a variety disciplines who share my goals of improving health and from whom I can learn collaboration strategies to implement in Hawaii. This award will provide me with protected time to conduct research, improve my scientific writing skills, receive one-on-one mentoring in career development, and expand my local and national professional networks. Using the results generated by this research, I will actively work with community members and cross-sectorial organizations to develop projects and policies that will address psychosocial, sociocultural, and biological determinants of health. My hope is to better enable Native Hawaiians to create the communities of health they traditionally enjoyed and I believe that funding from RWJF – New Connections will help to do this.

Research Interests

  • Community-based participatory research to address health disparities and promote community capacity
  • Examining and addressing social determinants of health for Native Hawaiians and health disparate populations
  • Behavioral, psychosocial, and environmental determinants of hypertension and cardiovascular risk
  • Empirically- and culturally-informed multilevel interventions and policies for health promotion


Townsend Ing, C., Delafield, R., Soong, S. Bringing Community and Research Together in Hawai‘i. (in press) In Mesiona Lee, W.K., and Look, M.A. (Eds.), Hoʻi Hou Ka Mauli Ola: Pathways to Native Hawaiian Health. Vol.5, Hawaiʻinuiākea. Honolulu: Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and University of Hawaiʻi Press.

Delafield, R., Hermosura, A.H., Townsend, C.K.M., et. al (in press). A community-based participatory research guided model for dissemination of evidence-based interventions. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, & Action.

Antonio, M.C. K., Hyeong, J. A., Townsend Ing, C., et. al (in press). The effects of perceived discrimination on depression in Native Hawaiians. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, 75,9, 266-272.

Townsend Ing, C., Zhang, G., Dillard, A., et. al (2016) Effects of a Semi-Structured Social Support Group on a Diabetes Self-Care Intervention. Journal of Diabetes Research, Article ID 7913258

Townsend Ing C., Miyamoto, R., Paloma, D., et. al (2016)The PILI@Work Program: a translation of the diabetes prevention program to native Hawaiian-serving worksites in Hawai‘i. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 1-12.

Townsend, C.K.M., Dillard, A., Hosoda, K.K., et. al (2016) Using community-based participatory research to integrate a behavioral intervention and biological research to achieve health equity for Native Hawaiians. Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(1), 4.

Townsend, C., Takishima-Lacasa, J.,  Latner, J., et. al (2014). Ethnic and Gender Differences in Ideal Body Size and Related Attitudes among Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Whites. Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health. Aug 2014; 73(8): 236–243.

Kaholokula, J.K., Wilson, R.E., Townsend, C.K.M., et. al (2014). Translating the Diabetes Prevention Program in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities: The PILI ‘Ohana Project.  Translational Behavioral Medicine, 4(2), 149-159.

Kaholokula, J.K., Townsend, C.K.M., Ige, A., et. al (2013). Socio-demographic, behavioral, and biological variables related to weight loss in Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Obesity, 21(3), E196-203.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2017
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Creating Healthier, More Equitable Communities
  • Project Name: Examining hypertension and cardiovascular disease risk in Native Hawaiian communities.

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