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Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, mental health and treatment need in the United States during COVID‐19

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Before COVID-19, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (NH/PI) endured a heavy burden of alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use in prior US data. Responding to reports that many NH/PI communities experienced severe COVID-19 disparities that could exacerbate their ATOD burden, we partnered with NH/PI communities to assess the substance use patterns and treatment needs of diverse NH/PIs during COVID-19.


Collaborating with NH/PI community organisations across five states with large NH/PI populations, we conducted a large-scale investigation of NH/PI ATOD use, mental health and treatment need during COVID-19. Between April and November 2021, NH/PI-heritage research staff from our community partners collected data involving 306 NH/PI adults using several community-based recruitment methods (e-mail, telephone, in-person) and two survey approaches: online and paper-and-pencil. Multivariate regressions were conducted to examine potential predictors of NH/PI alcohol use disorder and need for behavioural health treatment.


During COVID-19, 47% and 22% of NH/PI adults reported current alcohol and cigarette use, while 35% reported lifetime illicit substance use (e.g., cannabis, opioid). Depression and anxiety were high, and alcohol use disorder, major depression and generalised anxiety disorder prevalence were 27%, 27% and 19%, respectively. One-third of participants reported past-year treatment need with lifetime illicit substance use, COVID-19 distress and major depression respectively associating with 3.0, 1.2, and 5.3 times greater adjusted odds for needing treatment.


NH/PI adults reported heavy ATOD use, depression, anxiety and treatment need during COVID-19. Targeted research and treatment services may be warranted to mitigate COVID-19's negative behavioural health impact on NH/PI communities.

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