Esperanza y Vida: Training Lay Health Advisors and Cancer Survivors to Promote Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening in Latinas
The use of lay health advisors (LHAs) to promote community-based health education programs is well documented and is considered an effective way to reach underserved communities. Esperanza y Vida (Hope & Life) is an educational outreach program to increase breast and cervical cancer screening for diverse Latinas. It incorporates Latino LHAs (men and women) and cancer survivor role models, sobrevivientes, in the program delivery. An interactive training program, conducted by bilingual staff across three sites (Little Rock, Arkansas; Buffalo, New York and New York City) included 74 sobrevivientes and LHAs who were recruited and trained. All training attendees completed an initial application assessing socio-demographics, experience and availability as well as, true/false surveys at the beginning (pre-) and end of the training (post-) measuring knowledge levels of breast and cervical cancer health. Data analysis indicated a significant increase of both breast and cervical cancer knowledge for attendees trained as LHAs (pre = 60%; post = 80%; p = 0.000), whereas sobrevivientes had a higher baseline knowledge of breast health (74%), and therefore did not show a significant increase following training (79%). However, sobrevivientes did display a significant increase in cervical cancer knowledge (p = 0.003). These findings demonstrate the impact of training and how LHAs may be recruited at different levels of knowledge and experience and be successfully trained in key program elements. Moreover, results indicate that sobrevivientes may be impacted differently, or require variations in training approaches. This information can be useful in developing and customizing curriculum for future lay health training programs.
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