Developing a Novel Intervention to Improve Health Literacy

Improving diabetes knowledge and screening behaviors among Latinos in Wisconsin

Full Project Name:Developing a Novel Intervention to Improve Health Literacy Among Wisconsin LatinosPrimary Community Organization:United Community CenterPrimary Academic Partner:Elaine Drew, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$200,000
Award Date
January2011
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:


It is well known that diabetes is a serious health problem across the United States, with the prevalence of diabetes increasing, particularly among minority populations. Among U.S. Latinos, the prevalence of diabetes is nearly two times greater compared to non-Latino populations. Diabetes also is medically more severe among Latinos, with a higher incidence of diabetic complications reported, often due in part to late diagnosis. Yet numerous studies have shown that the uptake of preventive behaviors, from improvements in diet and exercise habits to information-seeking and appointment-seeking, requires basic access to accurate and understandable information about diabetes and its risk factors, especially for minorities who bear disproportionate burdens of the disease. Given the significantly higher rate of low health literacy among minority populations, it is clear that accurate messages about diabetes risk have yet to become equally accessible and comprehendible to all ethnic groups, including Latinos who comprise the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority group in the U.S.

Through this project, partners endeavor to bridge the serious gap between the Latino population and access to accurate and understandable information about diabetes risk and prevention by developing and evaluating the outcomes of a novel intervention to improve diabetes knowledge, knowledge retention, and screening behaviors among Latinos in Wisconsin.

Additional MCW academic partner:
Ruta Brazauska, PhD, Insitute for Health and Equity

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Developed and sustained a team of diabetes and lay community experts, creating a Community Advisory Board (CAB) and Expert Panel (EP) to provide fundamental support throughout the project

• Engaged community members to obtain perspectives on assets and barriers to accessing accurate and understandable diabetes-related knowledge and services, and identify culturally appropriate and medically accurate diabetes-related health messages. Community feedback was used in the development of education outreach methods, materials, and dissemination plans

• Produced a high-quality, culturally-appropriate educational tool in the form of a telenovela, documenting through surveys that the intervention was effective in improving key knowledge items about diabetes, such as nutritional aspects of diabetes prevention and management. Surveys also indicated that the telenovela was like by participants, who stated they would recommend it to family and friends

• Developed a dissemination plan, partnering and engaging with Latino-serving agencies in Milwaukee, producing a DVD copy of the telenovela for use by diabetes educators working with Spanish-speaking clients and developing plans to submit the completed telenovela and script for peer-review and publication through CES4 Health

• Presented project at various meetings and events such as the American Heart Association’s Por Tu Corazon and Conexiones event for the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee

• Produced a scholarly manuscript, "Risk Factors Associated with Diabetes Screening: Results of a Survey with Latinos in Milwaukee"

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