Online Program

Learning about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle with charlestown's at-risk latinos: A spanish-language intervention

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ricardo Sedan, RN, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Malden, MA
Norma Sanchez, RN, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Arlington, MA
Background and issues: Charlestown, Massachusetts, has approximately 2,000 Latinos, nearly all living in poverty and many with limited English skills. Thirty percent are obese. Many struggle with chronic illness and preventable health problems. Description: We endeavored to address some of the health needs of this population, in a setting that was culturally appropriate, and entirely in Spanish. We developed interactive activities that included cooking classes, exercise, and discussions about nutrition and other chronic-illness-related topics such as hypertension. Other activities included guided field trips to farmer markets, a walking club, chair yoga, and talks about stress management, domestic violence and community violence. We helped participants acquire subsidized gym memberships, and encouraged the development of life skills through goal-setting exercises. Lessons Learned: Participants appreciated learning about health topics in their native language and in layperson terms. They demonstrated health-conscious shopping by learning to read food labels in guided shopping trips. Participants developed a strong sense of community with each other in a setting where community was not an intentional outcome. Many of them were at risk for isolation or suffered from depression, and our group provided them with structure and a reason to be active. Recommendations: Health education interventions for populations with limited English skills are particularly effective when delivered in culturally sensitive settings using the native language. Creating a sense of community is important, and an effective intervention in itself, particularly in unintentional communities such as subsidized housing. Addressing life skills such as punctuality, organization, and goal setting are further recommendations.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Identify some of the obstacles to health in the lives of low-income and at-risk Latinos in a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Identify effective community-based interventions that are culturally appropriate and in the language of the target audience.

Keyword(s): Latinos, Chronic Illness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Registered Nurse, Spanish Medical Interpreter, Outreach Worker, and a Nurse Practitioner student. I have experience in community health and a passion for serving the under-served. As an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, I spent a year serving the Latino community of Charlestown; my Fellowship project evolved into the intervention I am presenting here. As a Spanish Interpreter and Outreach Worker, I spent three years helping the Latinos of Charlestown address their health care needs.
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.