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Promotoras as facilitators of change: Latinas' perspectives after participating in a lifestyle behaviour intervention program

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Abstract

Aim

To describe immigrant Latinas' perspectives of a lifestyle behaviour intervention, focusing on their interactions with and perceptions of the promotoras who delivered the program in the USA.

Background

Immigrant Latinas in the USA have high obesity rates, which contribute to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and other long-term diseases. Interventions using the promotora model appear to be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk by improving dietary habits, physical activity and selected clinical variables among Latinas. However, there has been very limited enquiry into what it is about these interventions and promotoras that facilitates behaviour change, from the perspective of participants.

Design

Grounded theory methodology guided the data collection and analysis.

Methods

This qualitative study was completed in 2012 in California, after the end of a lifestyle behaviour intervention. Four focus groups and seven one-on-one interviews were conducted with a total of 18 immigrant Latina intervention participants.

Results

Women described promotoras as helping them change by motivating them through three interconnected elements: tools, support and knowledge. Latinas viewed their ability to make lifestyle changes as connected with their emotional and psychological health and saw promotoras as counsellors who gave emotional and social support. In this respect, the intervention was emotionally therapeutic for this sample of Latinas, although this was not the original intention of the program.

Conclusion

Promotoras gave the backbone of the intervention and were crucial in motivating Latinas to implement lifestyle changes. Future lifestyle behaviour interventions should include a strong component of mental and emotional well-being.

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