December 1, 2014

Kumu Hula Perspectives on Health

Mele A. Look MBA; Gregory G. Maskarinec PhD; Mapuana de Silva BA; Todd Seto MD; Marjorie L. Mau MD; and Joseph Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula PhD

Hawai‘i Journal of Medicine & Public Health

To prepare for research studies that would evaluate the impact of hula as part of a clinical intervention, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and management programs, kumu hula defined as “culturally recognized hula educators and experts,” were interviewed. Investigators sought to elicit their views regarding hula’s traditional and contemporary connections to health and well-being, assess the cultural appropriateness of such projects, and suggest ways to maintain hula’s cultural integrity throughout clinical intervention programs. Six prominent kumu hula from five different Hawaiian Islands participated in semi-structured key informant interviews lasting between 60 and 90 minutes. Each was asked open-ended questions regarding their attitudes, beliefs, and experiences regarding the connections of hula to health as well as their recommendations on maintaining the integrity of the dance’s cultural traditions when developing and implementing a hula-based CVD program. All kumu hula endorsed the use of hula in a CVD intervention program and articulated the strong, significant, and enduring connections of hula to health and well-being. Each kumu hula also recognized that health is the full integration of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. When care is taken to preserve its cultural integrity, hula may be an effective integrated modality for interventions designed to improve health and wellness.

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