202469 Kuvura amajwi, healing voices: Promoting health literacy in low-literacy refugee populations

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amy K. Richardson, BS , Department of Nutrition, Programs in Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Denise Bates, PhD, RRT, CHES , Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Allison Anders, PhD , Department of Instructional Technology, Health and Cultural Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Fleurette Sambira, MPH , Department of Nutrition, Programs in Public Health, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
As worldwide numbers of displaced persons increase to nearly 33 million (UNHCR, 2007), the United States experiences one of the highest global refugee resettlement rates, with an estimated 80,000 resettled in 2009 alone (Refugee Council USA, 2008). With increasing numbers, U.S. government and resettlement agencies must expand placement to new locations, yet community agencies may lack the systemic infrastructure and communication skills necessary to address the anticipated increase in public health services for refugees and their families. Cross-disciplinary collaboration and new technologies, however, provide vehicles for bridging these service challenges.

Healing Transitions: Program Interventions for Youth Refugees and Families, a community-based participatory research project that assesses short and long-term transition needs of refugees, developed the Kuvura Amajwi (Healing Voices) MP3 program to assist in refugee health literacy. When qualitative analysis of focus group interviews with Burundian refugees revealed cultural misconceptions because of illiteracy in English and their native language Kirundi, Kirundi MP3 tracks were paired with illustrated pictures to provide health literacy modules. Innovative and efficient, MP3 modules communicate health information to low literacy and culturally diverse populations. Modules can be easily transposed into other languages for use with other refugee communities, and new health modules can be added as needed, making MP3 players a fluid yet effective means of increasing health literacy.

After piloting, health modules in both Kirundi and English were implemented in partnership with English and cultural orientation classes provided by a local resettlement agency. Pre- and post-evaluation results of this innovative program will be presented.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the development of MP3 health modules for non-English speaking and low-literacy refugee populations. 2. Discuss the value and ease of using of technology in conjunction with traditional orientation and training methods.

Keywords: Health Literacy, Refugees

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I expect my Masters of Public Health in December, 2009, and have been involved in this community-based participatory research project since its beginning.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.