Online Program

Community Health Worker-driven participatory action research method to improve behavioral health services for farm workers in a primary care setting

Monday, November 2, 2015

Maia Ingram, MPH, Deputy Director, Arizona Prevention Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Lucy Murrieta, B.A., Sunset Community Health Center, Yuma, AZ
Gina Garcia, Sunset Community Health Center, Yuma, AZ
Cristal Ramirez, Sunset Community Health Center, Yuma, AZ
Malena Valdez, Sunset Community Health Center, Arizona, AZ
Adriana Del Rio, Sunset Community Health Center, Yuma, AZ
Jill de Zapien, BA, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Patricia Herman, PhD, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
Kenneth Schachter, MD, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Scott Carvajal, PhD, MPH, Health Behavior Health Promotion, Division of Health Promotion Sciences, University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Tucson, AZ
Farmworkers living in U.S.-Border communities experience numerous stressors in their daily lives that place them at risk for behavioral health problems, particularly anxiety and depression.  In this paper, we describe a participatory action research (PAR) approach in which Community Health Workers (CHWs) use focus groups to engage the patient population in discussing mental health issues and identifying preferences for care within a federally qualified health center.  Community Health Workers are well-suited to engage community members in participatory action research because they identify themselves as change agents who seek not only to benefit the health of community members, but also to advocate for their rights.  In our study, the CHWs were trusted members of the community who participated in the articulation of research questions, development and implementation of protocols, participant recruitment and data collection. CHWs encouraged focus group members to represent their community in the co-construction of knowledge regarding perceptions of behavioral health and priorities for care.  This research illustrates that CHWs, as representatives for patients’ needs and a bridge between the health care system and communities, can play a vital role as intermediate actors in generating patient participation in PAR research. In this presentation, CHWs reflect on their capacity to generate meaningful patient participation in PAR projects, or more specifically to elevate focus groups from a conventional qualitative research tool designed to gather input from marginalized populations, to an authentic form of community engagement.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe a model of participatory action research in which Community Health Workers use focus groups engage members of the farmworker community in research about mental health. Evaluate focus groups as a form of community engagement in research. Discuss the impact of the research experience on both the research practice and the ways in which CHWs interact with their patients when they talk about emotional wellbeing.

Keyword(s): Community Health Workers and Promoters, Community-Based Research (CBPR)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been co-investigator on several community-based participatory research projects using the community health worker model to address health disparities and was a co-investigator on this research project.
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.