Lazos Hispanos: Promising Strategies and Lessons Learned in the Development of a Multisystem, Community-Based Promotoras Program
J Prim Prev. 2020;41(3):229-243. doi:10.1007/s10935-020-00587-z. [Pubmed Abstract]
Matthew RA, Orpinas P, Calva A, Bermudez JM, Darbisi C
U.S. Latinos face multiple inter-related barriers to access health and social services. Researchers and practitioners have called upon community-based participatory research (CBPR) to address such challenges and health disparities, with the community health worker-or promotoras-model evidencing positive outcomes. What is less clear, however, are the promising strategies to support the development of a multisystem, community-based promotoras program. In response, the current study applied a CBPR conceptual model as an organizing framework to develop a promotora program. Lazos Hispanos (Hispanic Links) was developed to enhance the health and well-being of Latinx residing in low-income communities in the Southeastern United States. This study highlights 16 lessons learned, anchored in the first two dimensions of the CBPR conceptual model: community context and partnership development. First, the community assessment and activities leading to Lazos Hispanos took nearly 2 years but were crucial to develop a strong basis for the program. Second, the development of a multicultural and interdisciplinary research team enriched every aspect of the program and enhanced culturally responsive community engagement. Selection, training, and ongoing support of the promotoras were fundamental to program success. Particularly important were the following: receiving mentorship from a successful promotora organization; delineating mutually agreed upon roles and responsibilities; following national training standards for community health workers; and, holding monthly meetings for training, support, and data collection. The engagement of community service providers as partners was facilitated by building upon existing community relationships, signing a memorandum of understanding that specified roles and responsibilities, conducting tours of provider facilities with the promotoras, and keeping providers abreast of the program via bi-annual community gatherings. The development process showed fidelity to the conceptual model. Lazos Hispanos has proven an asset to participants, the promotoras, and service providers as the program continues to develop a community-based, health supportive infrastructure.