November 1, 2010

Mortality Patterns of Native Hawaiians Across Their Lifespan: 1990–2000

Sela V. Panapasa, PhD, Marjorie K. Mau, MD, David R. Williams, PhD, MPH, and James W. McNally, PhD

The American Journal of Public Health

Objectives:  We examined mortality patterns across the lifespan of Native Hawaiians and compared mortality disparities across races.

Methods:  We determined the age-specific and age-adjusted mortality rates of Native Hawaiians from 1990 to 2000 by using national census and vital registration data.

Results:  Among Native Hawaiians aged younger than 1 year, expected deaths were 15% lower than for Blacks and 50% higher than for Whites. Among older adults, Native Hawaiians had higher rates of mortality compared with the general population, particularly in 1990 and 1995. Crude death rates for Native Hawaiians were similar to those for Blacks in 1990 and 1995 but were 20% lower than those for Blacks by 2000. Crude death rates for Native Hawaiians were 30% higher than for Whites in 1990 and 1995 and more than 40% higher than for Whites in 2000.

Conclusions:  Compared with Whites, Native Hawaiians and Blacks face similar challenges regarding infant and early-life mortality and increasing risks of mortality in mid-life and early old age. Our analyses document a need for renewed efforts to identify the determinants of ill health and commitment to address them.

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