Health Information Literacy Outreach: Meeting the Needs of the Latino Community in Providence, Rhode Island and Rural Seniors in Western Maine
Health Information Outreach
Community Health and Preventive Medicine
Library and Information Science
Public Health Education and Promotion
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AbstractPurpose: To guide decisions related to a new approach to health information outreach and set in motion partnerships with community-based organizations and agencies. Audience: Providence Rhode Island’s Latino community and rural residents in the Western Maine Health District (Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties). Methodology: Social Cognitive Theory informed the development of a semi-structured key informant interview protocol. Questions were designed to determine confidence in using the Internet to find health information and the availability community resources that support access to computers and the Internet, including possible role models. Interviews were conducted in person and at a time and place convenient to the interviewee. All questions were open-ended, followed by probes to elicit greater detail. Interview data were coded and organized into major themes and sub-themes. It is within the sub-themes and direct quotes that patterns emerge. Results: Nine key informants, service providers in CBOs, libraries, and schools were interviewed in Western Maine. Data were organized into six major themes and 24 sub-themes. From these data we learned that communities in Western Maine have a growing senior population and that community-based organizations are important to supporting public health efforts. Health topics of concern include chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and cancer. The public school system, adult education programs, and public libraries offer access to computers, and opportunities for training and support. Ten key informants, service providers in CBOs, libraries, and health care were interviewed in Providence, Rhode Island. Data were organized into six major themes and 23 sub-themes. From these data we learned that Latinos in this community begin looking for health information by asking the people they know and trust. Health topics of concern include issues related to health insurance and access to care, chronic diseases like diabetes, and family and childhood health and that the radio is an important source of health information. Adult education programs, public libraries, and a network of minority health centers offer access to computers, and opportunities for training and support. These findings led the NN/LM – NER to tailor their health information outreach efforts in Western Maine to seniors and to work with public health coalitions and agencies directly serving seniors to increase awareness and use of NIHSeniorHealth. In Providence, Rhode Island these findings led us to develop a train-the-trainer health information outreach model working with foreign trained health professionals to teach others in the community about reliable health information resources including MedlinePlus in Spanish and to work with local radio. Discussion: An intensive community assessment effort is critical to developing a focused health information literacy outreach program. These data and the process of gathering these data helped the program tailor efforts to meet the needs of the community and identified community leaders, local organizations, and other potential partners to improve community access to reliable health information. While the results of this community assessment are not generalizable, the approach provides a much needed practical understanding of the community and how best to address the needs and utilize available resources.
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