Dr. Tetine Sentell is the Director/Chair of the Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UH) and Professor in the Health Policy and Management specialization. Dr. Sentell was a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Medicine Institute of Public Health in Tirana, Albania in 2017 and was selected for the Board of Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching, University of Hawai‘i in 2013. Dr. Sentell is currently co-lead of the Healthy Hawai‘i Initiative Evaluation Team at OPHS, which evaluates chronic disease prevention efforts for the Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion Division of the Hawai‘i Department of Health. Dr. Sentell is also part of the Investigator Development Core of Ola HAWAII.
Dr. Sentell has a long-standing expertise in studying health outcomes and health communication across diverse racial/ethnic groups using mixed-methods and clinical administrative data. She has published over 100 papers and has been PI or Co-I on 13+ extramurally funded projects since arriving at UH in 2009. Dr. Sentell received a Ph.D. in Health Services and Policy Analysis from the University of California, Berkeley and was an NIMH postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Sentell has a particular interest in health literacy, which she has studied for over twenty-five years across heterogeneous Asian and Pacific Islander communities and other diverse populations in the U.S. and beyond. A recent focus has been considering health literacy beyond the individual level to consider the community and social context. This is highly relevant to Pacific Islander and Asian communities for whom health decision-making in a family network and/or community is common. Dr. Sentell has published innovative work on community health literacy. This research found that both individual and community health literacy are significant, distinct correlates of individual general health status in the state of Hawai‘i.
In the time of COVID-19, with local, national, and international partners, Dr. Sentell has considered the critical importance of health literacy generally and envisioned health care solutions to build organizational health literacy to meet patient needs in this complicated time. Dr. Sentell is also part of an international team doing research on digital health literacy in college students and the lead of a collaborative social media campaign with the Native Hawaii and Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response, Recovery, and Resilience team to amplify voices of the youth of Hawaiʻi across diverse languages to support better health, especially in Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and other communities that have been so impacted by COVID-19. This effort builds not only from the value of community messaging to community but also can potentially leverage community strengths of intergenerational households and strong relationships to build health literacy.