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Promotoras are community members who receive specialized healthcare training and provide basic healthcare education to their community. They also serve as liaisons between the residents, medical and social service organizations, assisting in community organizing, and social policy formation. This essay will examine their role in healthcare and social policies, discuss the model’s success, and possible communities and issues that implementing a similar model of service can improve.
Four videos were provided, describing various programs that involved promotoras. In these videos:
- Two women describe how they became promotoras after attending classes on personal improvement and healthcare. Through the program, they worked with an organization that plants gardens around residents’ houses to provide them with healthier food. They note that the promotoras’ work is about “helping these people” (Colorado Health Foundation, 2017).
- Promotoras described their efforts as liaisons between local families and agencies. They mentioned organizing dance, fitness, and nutrition classes to help prevent illnesses like diabetes, as well as making home visits to monitor the community members’ progress (Kaiser Permanente, 2010).
- Promotoras discuss how a local river became polluted by local factories, causing serious health problems in the community. They speak about currently looking a solution to the issue by making small changes within their environment and workplace, and the responsibility it brings. (Citizen Film, 2010).
- Several people discuss promotoras serving as liaisons between communities and agencies, analyzing health and social issues, as well as motivating and informing the residents to participate in resolving said issues (Vision Y Compromiso, 2010).
The health issues addressed in the videos mentioned above are obesity and healthy eating, fitness, environmental problems, and chronic illnesses such as asthma. Promotoras act within their communities as well as serve as liaisons informing public officials of the needs that exist in them (Vision Y Compromiso, 2010). They also help foster participation in the community and motivate residents to action in identifying and resolving the problems they face.
Promotoras provide an invaluable service in public outreach and access to healthcare to people who otherwise may be unaware that they have a problem. In one study, participants were “able to make lifestyle changes that positively impacted their lives” (Albarran, Heilemann, & Koniak-Griffin, 2014, p. 2307). The same study also points out that in addition to improvements to lifestyle and physical health, promotoras also provided counseling and emotional support (Albarran et al., 2014). These findings point to the importance and success of such programs.
Such outreach is crucial for first-generation immigrants who may have difficulty accessing healthcare due to language barriers or unfamiliarity with the healthcare system. The study mentioned above points out that many of its participants “had been unaware they had a health problem until they enrolled in the programme” (Albarran et al., 2014, p. 2308). As maintainers of two-way communications between communities and the local services and public officials, promotoras help detect issues and make sure a solution is implemented as quickly as possible.
Expanding the model
As “inside people” and mediators to communities that may be isolated, insular, or unfamiliar with the services available to them, promotoras can serve to assist in any healthcare-related or public organizing issues. In particular, problems that require a certain degree of trust and authority, such as reproductive and sexual health or substance abuse, may be improved by deploying such programs. Furthermore, while spending much time within their communities, promotoras can collect valuable information related to health and social issues and ensure that solutions can be found before these situations deteriorate.
The promotora model provides a useful tool for low-income or insular communities to interact with their local services and authorities. It also improves said communities’ access to healthcare, particularly in situations where they are unaware of a problem’s existence or not familiar enough with the healthcare system to seek help. Finally, as trusted authority figures, promotoras can detect and help resolve mental health and social issues, or gather information on such matters that can be used to implement relevant social policies.
- Albarran, C.R., Heilemann, M.V. & Koniak-Griffin, D. (2014). Promotoras as facilitators of change: Latinas’ perspectives after participating in a lifestyle behaviour intervention program. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(10), 2303-2313.
- Citizen Film (2010). Maquilapolis — Promotoras [Video file]. Web.
- Colorado Health Foundation (2017). RE: Vision — Promotoras [Video file]. Web.
- Kaiser Permanente (2010) Las Promotoras: Kaiser Permanente Helps Latino Families Access Care [Video file]. Web.
- Vision y Compromiso (2010). Promotoras and Community Health Workers Network [Video file]. Web.