Online Program

Transformative Power of Stories in an Ethnic Enclave

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Miguel Rodriguez, MPH candidate, Lakeshore Division, American Cancer Society, Chicago, IL
Ana Genkova, PhD candidate in community Psychology, Community Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Yvette CastaƱeda, MPH, PhD candidate, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Champaign, IL
Simone Alexander, Enlace Chicago, Chicago, IL
Shirley Alfaro, MSW; BS, Chicago Region, StoryCorps Inc., Chicago, IL
Jennifer Hebert-Beirne, PhD, Community Health Sciences - School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Mexican neighborhoods with low SES and high household density, but also low all-cause mortality and high life expectancy, create an academic puzzle called the “Latino Paradox.” These conflicting community health indicators highlight the complicated and dynamic story of health for Latino communities in the US. As traditional community health assessment research methods continue to grapple with this paradox, we present alternative methods using oral histories to understand Latino community health assets.

Oral histories arose as a type of data when our community partners in a participatory community health assessment research of Little Village, a Mexican neighborhood in Chicago, found the qualitative methods being used, focus groups and observations, lacked information on individual residents’ assets and their contribution to the community’s capacity. Oral histories not only fill in these conceptual research gaps but also provide multiple perspectives of health and engage more community members in the process. After a year of research, we have compiled 27 oral histories and at each step a new understanding of health for these individuals and Little Village.

Our inclusion of these data has inspired us to think broadly and understand the power and opportunities that exist in stories as data. They can be used to provide counter narratives to the deficit-oriented indicators typically used in CHA, to bridge a cultural divide and allow policymakers and others to feel and see community lived experiences, and to return to the Latino communities the power of writing their own histories and controlling their health.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Design community health assessments that use oral histories Discuss the role of oral histories as data Describe different methods of disseminating results from analyzing oral histories

Keyword(s): Community-Based Research (CBPR), Community Health Assessment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator on this project and oversee all components of the study and analysis.
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.