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The Healthy Connections Project: A Community-Based Participatory Research Project Involving Women at Risk for Diabetes and Hypertension
Abstract

Abstract:

Background: The Healthy Connections (HC) project was a community health worker (CHW) intervention that built upon existing social networks to encourage African American and Latina women to obtain screening for type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Objectives: This community-based participatory research (CBPR) project involved identifying and training CHWs, known as HC Advocates (HCAs). The HCAs provided screening through House Parties and shared health information and practical support with members of their social networks and broader networks of individuals.

Methods: Data collection methods included project documentation, participant observation, group interviews, closed-ended surveys, and written examinations to ensure HCAs had the required knowledge and skills to perform their roles. Data collection and analysis incorporated both qualitative and quantitative methods, and used a formative approach that integrated results from key aspects of the project into ongoing decision-making and project activities.

Results: Eight community residents completed training and the required exams to become HCAs. Together, they conducted 124 House Parties, screened 1,428 individuals for high blood pressure and glucose levels, and shared health information with those individuals as well as 218 additional members of HCAs informal social networks. Of those who attended the House Parties, 93% were African American, 4% Latina, 2% non-Hispanics whites, and 1% other racial and ethnic groups.

Conclusion: The HC project demonstrated the potential for using a CBPR approach to develop, implement, and evaluate a CHW intervention designed to reach African American and Latina women at high risk for hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Participation from relevant communities in the design of the intervention and evaluation, with particular attention to recruitment and retention of representatives from communities who face challenges accessing health care, can help to increase involvement of community residents in screening and educational programs aimed at addressing disparities in type 2 diabetes and hypertension.