250624 Pandemia Invisible

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 3:26 PM

David M. Abramson, PhD MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Cinthya Felix , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University MSPH, New York, NY
Gamaliel Ramos , Production, Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Brooklyn, NY
Tasha Stehling-Ariza, MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Akilah Banister, MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Lauren E. Walsh, MPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Jonathan J. Sury, MPH, CPH , National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, New York, NY
Shortly after the initial outbreak of the H1N1 pandemic in the spring of 2009, researchers from NCDP travelled to four US cities to explore how communities of undocumented Mexican immigrants were responding to the evolving health threat. A documentary team from the Spanish public television network HITN chronicled the researchers' efforts, following the team from New York City to Homestead, Florida; McAllen, Texas; and Los Angeles, California. This compelling English-language film reveals the challenges that providers, advocates, and researchers face in engaging communities of undocumented immigrants and in gaining their trust. It also dramatically illustrates the many complex forces in these individuals' lives, particularly when they find themselves at the intersection of economic, political, and public health interests. It may be no small irony that these immigrants' pursuit of the American dream may be as elusive to them as they are to governmental officials.

The challenge of “elusiveness” is well-known to public health. Undocumented Mexican immigrants are only one of many elusive communities in the US. Elusive communities are groups and sub-populations generally hidden from public. It could include the homeless, drug users, HIV-positive individuals, or gay or transgendered populations. Gaining access to these elusive communities, much like NCDP did for their research, must be predicated on principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) – working with representatives of and advocates for the elusive communities, involving them in recruiting and interviewing members of the elusive communities. The success of any particular research design will depend upon access to and trust among the members of these communities. This documentary following NCDP demonstrates just how difficult this may be, even in the face of man-made or natural disasters.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the experience of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States during the H1N1 pandemic. Identify issues and challenges in researching "elusive" communities.

Keywords: Migrant Health, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of this study
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.