162978 Perspectives from CHWs as researchers in a nutrition participatory observation project in South Texas colonias

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Julie Ann St. John, MA, MPH , Center for Community Health Development, School of Rural Public Health, TAMHSC, McAllen, TX
Mirthala Aguillon, CHW , Center for Community Health Development, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center, McAllen, TX
Barbara Sharf, PhD , Department of Communication, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Joseph R. Sharkey, PhD MPH RD , Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX
Four promotores (CHWs) employed with the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health participated in a nutrition-related ‘participatory observation' research project in two colonia cluster areas in deep South Texas along the Texas-Mexico border. These areas are characterized by high rates of diabetes and obesity, persistent poverty, sub-standard housing, low educational levels, and high unemployment rates. The overall purpose of this study remained to pilot test a complex form of participant observations focusing on actual food-related behaviors of family members as observed by researchers in the families' colonia homes. An underlying goal remained to demonstrate the effectiveness of using CHWs to conduct research in a community setting. The project consisted of pairing one promotora and one bilingual researcher to conduct observations with eight different families for one weekend day and two half-days. In preparation for the study, the promotoras and researchers assisted in the development of a home observation guide and participated in two half-day ethnography workshops on conducting participant observations and writing detailed field notes. Previously, these promotores focused on traditional competencies such as health promotion, education, and outreach, and additional competencies such as community organizing; facilitation; problem solving/solution finding; program planning; and program implementation. This study utilized CHWs to conduct research, which its success was demonstrated through the following identified issues: dietary decision-making patterns and cultural practices within the geographic and cultural setting of the colonias as well as meanings ascribed to these patterns by family members.

Learning Objectives:
1) Discuss potential research opportunities for CHWs. 2) Discuss types of training needed when utilizing CHWs as researchers. 3) Discuss lessons learned when involving CHWs in research studies.

Keywords: Lay Health Workers, Community Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.