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Impacting the Health of Latino Communities: A Model for Rural Areas

Windsor Westbrook Sherrill


South Carolina has the fourth fastest growing Latino population in the nation. In the Southeast, the healthcare provider population typically does not mirror the growing ethnic diversity of the patient community. Because the increase in Latino residents is recent, the cultural norms and health beliefs of the Latino population often are not well understood by health care providers. The Promotores de Salud program is one program that has been effective in the Latino community. The purpose of the program is to empower individuals within the community to adopt healthy lifestyles and to promote health within their own families and communities. Fifteen Lay Health Advisors (LHAs) were recruited and trained to change their own behaviors and to serve as a bridge between the community and formal healthcare agencies. During the training, numerous health improvements were documented among the lay health advisors including decreased cholesterol and positive changes to health behaviors such as nutrition, exercise, and stress management. Through educational programs, the lay health advisors implemented 2,098 different health education interventions with patients in the Latino community. Over 300 individuals were referred for health services such as mammography and high blood pressure intervention. As the Latino community continues to grow, it necessitates the need for innovative health services delivery to address issues of access, quality, and patient satisfaction. The Promotores de Salud model has been uniquely effective in empowering Latinos to promote health within their families and communities in rural areas.


rural health, latino, North Carolina

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