Protective Effect of Biculturalism for Health Amongst Minority Youth: The Case of Pacific Islander Migrant Youths in Hawai'i

Hye Ryeon Lee, Hye Eun Lee, Kevin Cassel, Megan Inada Hagiwara, Lilnabeth P. Somera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the mechanisms by which biculturalism impacts various health outcomes amongst youth migrants to Hawai'i who are from the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands jurisdictions. Using purposive sampling, 284 males and females (twelve to nineteen years old) of Pacific Islander ethnicities in Hawai'i completed a survey. Results from path analysis showed that biculturalism significantly and positively affected self-esteem that, in turn, improved eating attitude, body satisfaction and perceived well-being. Further, eating attitude increased healthy eating behaviour and body satisfaction that, in turn, positively affected general health perception and body satisfaction. Positive smoking attitudes increased smoking activities, which negatively affect general health perception. The study demonstrated that self-esteem impacted overall health through its influence on enhancing positive perceptions about the importance of healthy eating, body satisfaction and well-being. Biculturalism indirectly led to increased self-esteem, which in turn directly influenced attitudes about healthy eating, body satisfaction and perceived well-being. Our study provides strong evidence that addressing the problem of health disparities for minority populations in the USA has to start with reaffirming the value of diversity and multiculturalism and embracing an individual's historic cultural identity. Specific implications for funding agencies and researchers of minority health programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1022
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Pacific Islander
  • biculturalism
  • body satisfaction
  • perceived well-being
  • self-esteem
  • youth


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