Dr. Yamile Molina, Associate Professor in Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, received approximately $730,000 over 5 years from the National Cancer Institute to compare the outcomes of educational and empowerment interventions in regards to Latina women obtaining their own screening and disseminating information throughout their social networks.
[Photo: Dr. Yamile Molina]
There are various approaches to promote breast cancer screening and thus reduce morbidity and mortality among Latinas. For example, educational interventions focus on delivering information to non-adherent Latinas. Another approach are empowerment interventions, which focus on training community health advocates (community health workers, survivors) to engage in breast health promotion and advocacy (e.g., peer communication; health fairs, civic engagement).
To date, little research has compared interventions’ effects on individual-level outcomes or used formal social network analysis to examine how information ‘spreads’ throughout social circles and communities. The current study will address this gap by comparing the relative effects of two interventions – one in which participants receive information about breast cancer (“educational”) and one in which participants receive information about breast cancer as well as on how to become involved in breast health promotion (e.g., talking to peers, volunteering; “empowerment”). “This research will look at how information is diffused through communities, how information is used at a social network level. Participants are essentially becoming interventionists; by engaging women and increasing their self-efficacy, individuals can then affect communities,” explained Dr. Molina.
After this pilot trial with 150 Latinas is conducted, the study team will compare educational and empowerment interventions’ effects on: 1) receipt of participants’ screening (confirmed by medical records) within six months of participating in the study, 2) participants’ self-efficacy, norms, support, knowledge across time, and 3) the number and type of individuals to whom participants communicate breast cancer information and recruit into the study. Dr. Molina expects that comparing these interventions will show which has the broadest impact on not only individuals, but communities as well.
An important component of this work is engaging the perspectives of different voices throughout research design, implementation, and evaluation. “This work is being developed through a continuous, multiple stakeholder process. Many studies may use focus groups or engage community engagement advisory boards – we’re doing all of the above, and we’re talking to target participants, community leaders, interventionists,” Dr. Molina adds, “and we’re optimizing the message for not only the person giving the message but also the person receiving it, which makes [the intervention] feasible and sustainable in the long run.”