MarshalleseYok we yuk! Marshallese are those with ancestry to the indigenous Micronesian people of the Marshall Islands located in the central Pacific Ocean. The islands make up an area (43 miles) slightly larger than Washington D. C. ( Although Arkansas has the fastest growth of Marshallese residents in the United States (Williams and Hampton, 2005), Southern California is home to a large number of Marshallese as evidenced by community estimates of 500-700 Marshallese church members in Costa Mesa alone. Unfortunately, similar to the Marshall Islands (Katz et al., 2004), data on cancer risk and incidence specific to Marshallese residents living in the United States is difficult to find. Cancer was the second leading cause of death in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, with the top five sites including lung, cervix, liver, naso/oropharynx, and breast (Kroon et al., 2004). WINCART and its networking members are partnering with Marshallese community groups in Southern California to assess needs and promote health through cancer screenings, education, and research. However, there are cultural beliefs that may create barriers to health promotion, cancer screenings and education. For example, public discussion of reproductive health and the female body is not practiced among Marshallese women. Many do not seek health care unless they are pregnant, or they are in crisis, and illness is kept very private within the immediate family (Briand and Peters-Pak, 2010). A “present crisis-oriented healthcare” is common among the Marshallese community and it often impedes timely attention to necessary treatment (Choi, 2008)

Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP): The Southern California Marshallese community includes the Unare Beim, Marshallese Christian Church, Jake Jebol Eo Club, other Marshallese church and community groups which are building their network capacity with groups who value autonomy.   PIHP sponsors health promotion activities at youth and community events, coordinates health screening activities and conducts breast and cervical cancer community participatory research.

Contact: Greta Briand, Program Manager
Pacific Islander Health Partnership – Marshallese
12900 Garden Grove Blvd., #214-A
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Tel: (714) 968-1785

  • Briand, G. & Peters-Pak, R. (2010). Community commentary: Cultural considerations for breast and cervical cancer, Education among Marshallese women in the Contintental U. S. In Print, Californian Journal of Public Health.
  • Chen T., Ou, A. C., Haberle, H., Miller, V. P., Langidrik, J. R. and Palafox, N. A. (2004). Smoking rates and risk factors among youth in the Republic of the Marshall Islands: Results of a school survey. Pacific Health Dialog, 11(2,: 707.
  • Choi, J. Y. (2008). Seeking health care: Marshallese migrants in Hawai’i. Ethnicity & Health 13(1), 73-92.
    Katz, A. R., Palafox, N. A., Johnson, D. B., Yamada, S., Ou, A.C. and Minami J. S. (2004). Cancer epidemiology in the freely associated U.S. Pacific Island Jurisdictions: Challenges and methodologic issues. Pacific Health Dialog, 11(2): 84-87.
  • Kroon E., Reddy, R., Gunawardane, K., Briand, K., Riklon, S., Soe, T., & Balaoing, G.A.D. (2004). Cancer in the Republic of Marshall Islands. Pacific Health Dialogue, 11(2), 70-77.
  • Palafox, N. A., Yamada, S., Ou, A. C., Minami, J.S., Johnson, D. B., & Katz, A. R. (2004). Cancer in Micronesia. Pacific Health Dialogue, 11(2), 78-83.
  • Williams, D. P., & Hampton, A. 2005. Barriers to health services perceived by Marshallese imimigrants. Journal of Immigrant Health, 7, (4) 317-326.