Working in collaborative partnership with communities experiencing health disparities has been identified as a successful strategy to address population health disparities. This article illustrates a collaborative outreach program designed to address health disparities in a poor Latino community in Los Angeles County, California, by training community members to function as lay health advisors (LHAs) to provide health education to members of their own community. The study consisted of three phases, each accomplished in a collaborative partnership among researchers, community residents, community-based organizations, and health officials. In Phase 1, a community needs assessment was conducted to identify a community with demonstrated health disparities and agencies within that community willing to become partners in providing health education. In Phase 2, community members were recruited and trained to function as LHAs. Phase 3 consisted of implementation of community outreach and education activities by the LHAs in their community. This article describes how the study changed over time through responding to challenges that arose in the process of conducting the project, the participatory or collaborative methods used, and feedback received. Strategies for successful research using community partners are presented and implications discussed for future research efforts using community-partnered participatory methods for reducing health disparities.
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The authors gratefully acknowledge Antronette Yancey of the UCLA School of Public Health, Margaret Avila-Monge and Eloisa Gonzales of the LACDHS, Marlene Grossman and Liseth Romero-Martinez of Pacoima Beautiful, Elvia De La Torre of the LAEP, and Marlene Espino-Weiss for their help and support throughout the study. Supported in part by funding from NINR NR007077 Fellowship in the Health-Related Problems of Vulnerable Populations and NINR/NIH (3P30 NR005041-02S1; Principal Investigator: Deborah Koniak-Griffin).
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