Spreading the word about community based participatory research for asthma reduction




Lawrence child with asthma
Lawrence child with asthma

During Asthma Awareness Month in May, I was invited to present to the Region 1 EPA Regional Science Council’s Public Health Forum on a successful model community engagement intervention we utilize to address environmental health issues—such as asthma and lead poisoning —among underserved and hard-to-reach populations.

Pediatric asthma affects an estimated 7.1 million children in the U.S. under the age of 18.  In the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, a largely immigrant Latino community, pediatric asthma affects more than 14% of school age children, primarily due to environmentally related health disparities. In a city like Lawrence, issues such as language, literacy, and culture present challenges to reaching and engaging families in environmental health education.

A Promotora educating a woman in her home about avoiding asthma triggers and lead poisoning.
A Promotora educating a woman in her home about avoiding asthma triggers and lead poisoning.

At the EPA forum, JSI and the Centro de Apoyo Familiar, our partner organization in Lawrence, shared stories of our approach to community engagement that includes partnering with community residents to develop effective ways to engage the community through home-based and neighborhood-based meetings and person-to-person trainings. These “charlas” (meetings) are conducted by Spanish speaking “Promotoras”—or health promoters—who are trained to spread critical health information through familiar neighborhood, church, and childcare provider networks.

Building on the Promotoras’ commitment and passion to serve their community, together we have been able to reach several thousand families in Lawrence with messages about how to identify and address asthma triggers in the home. Key to our success in making a difference in this city, were what we learned from the Promotoras and Lawrence residents about how to reach the Latino population and how to develop culturally and linguistically appropriate interventions that are acceptable to the community.

One response to “Spreading the word about community based participatory research for asthma reduction”

  1. Hello Gretchen,
    Your project sounds really interesting. I am interested to know more about how you went about partnering with community residents in order to develop the engagement strategy. If you are interested in looking at my blog, it is at http://cbprethics.wordpress.com/ . I am using the blog as part of my PhD research, whre researchers can write about their experiences with CBPR and any ethically significant moments that have come up. Contributors have shared about some really interesting ethical challenges. Would you also like to share your own reflections?
    I wish you all the best with your project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.