Funded by the American Cancer Society, ten health promoter program coordinators serving the Maryland Latino population were recruited to participate in an in-depth interview regarding their experiences as program coordinators. The purpose of the interviews was to identify common barriers and “best practices” to overcome these barriers for the establishment and maintenance of health promoter programs for Latinos in the state of Maryland. Questions covered recruitment, training, supervision and successful experiences in their programs.
Respondents worked for their programs for 1-13 years. Programs were located in: Baltimore, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Wheaton, Hyattsville, and Washington, D.C. Some programs sought to increase awareness of healthy lifestyles, and others sought to reduce the risk of illnesses (e.g., HIV, cancer, obesity). Qualities they look for in health promoters are: Latino, desire to help the community, and natural leaders with team building skills. About half have male promoters doing the same work as women, and a couple of programs target outreach to other men. Programs that do not have male promoters were unable to recruit males due to cultural and practical reasons. All programs compensate promoters, mostly with a stipend with varying payments and payment intervals. Promoters are usually trained in a monthly meeting for an average of three hours. Some programs also carry out a weekly training at the beginning of the year, and a few only do a broad training at the beginning of the year. The most successful training methods were those that directly engaged participants (e.g., working in groups, role-playing, or other fun activities).
Most programs do a pre and a posttest to gauge what each promoter learned. A couple of the coordinators mentioned that they use feedback from their promoters to assess how successful the training was. Programs include periodic visits to sites to observe promoters and provide feedback, practice sessions after training, monthly reports provided by promoters, and annual performance evaluation. Key elements are: cultural and linguistic competency, dedicated, motivated and committed promoters, high quality supervisors, good training, and enough funding to compensate the promoters.
Good health promoter program coordinators are active leaders; creative in working with budgets; and communicate well. The majority of programs have a monitoring or evaluating process to measure program success (e.g., data collected by promoters, phone calls to person that received outreach, monthly reports). Some did not know what impact their program has had on clinical outcomes and the community while others said that the impact was positive. One respondent said that her program has not had a significant impact. Most respondents felt that the services their programs provide are cost effective and eventually lower the price of health care. Most felt that being a health promoter positively affects promoters’ lives.
Respondents encouraged starting a health promoter program because it helps communicate health information, but cautioned that a health promoter program requires significant training. They suggested conducting a needs assessment prior to starting a health promoter program, forming a target population advisory board, and identifying promoters that are concerned about their community’s health.
Presentation Information:Program: Peer-to-Peer Practice Advancement Sessions
Primary Category: Culturally Competent Care
Subtopics: Community health education, Program/intervention evaluations
Region Addressed by Presentation: US – Northeast
Organization: Community-Based Organization