The SC CTSI has teamed up with researchers in the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a community organization, Visión y Compromiso, to study the impact of a promotora model for educating Latinos in two Southern California counties about cardiovascular health and ways to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Promotoras are community members trained to provide culturally and linguistically relevant health-oriented education to members of their community.

In an initial proof-of-concept study funded by the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), 25 promotoras were trained to deliver a heart health curriculum — Su Corazón su Vida, developed by the NHLBI. By the time the study was completed, promotoras had recruited and engaged a total of 730 residents in the two test counties.

Preliminary results show that participants signifi­cantly increased their knowledge about cardio­vascular health, their desire and intent to change, and their involvement in physical activity and consumption of “heart healthy” foods. These changes were observed immediately after participation in the program, as well as at a 3-month follow-up assessment. The SC CTSI will also support the collection of one-year follow-up data to determine whether these changes were sustained over time.

Community health workers in conversation with researchers

“Many times people in the community wait to learn about health information until they’re already sick. That’s why it’s so important we get it to them.”

Maricela Sanchez – Promotora of Bakersfield, in Kern County, who conducted many of her workshops in schools and in churches

“We’ve been excited to take part in this project and show how promotoras can deliver an evidence-based curriculum to improve health,” said Melinda Cordero-Bárzaga, associate director of Visión y Compromiso.

The project contributed to the methodology of community-engaged research by demonstrating the value of promotoras as members of a research team. They obtained informed consent, collected de-identified pre- and post-study data, and assisted in data interpretation as members of the study’s advisory board.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.