Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Promotoras? No, I had not heard of them either. While I often learn something new about something old when I edit papers for JAN, I rarely lean something completely new. Not having heard of ‘promotoras’ before, I paid particular attention to this manuscript.
A promotora

Promotoras are non-professional community healthcare workers who mainly work alongside the Latino community – hence the word promotora – and in a study by Albarran et al. (2014) entitled: Promotoras as facilitators of change: Latinas' perspectives after participating in a lifestyle behaviour intervention program, the promotoras work with immigrant Latinas; women of Hispanic origin living in the USA.

Albarran et al. report on an intervention primarily aimed at reducing obesity and the risks associated with it. Hispanic immigrants in the USA are at high risk for obesity with Mexican immigrants in the USA being twice as likely to be obese as their counterparts in Mexico. The reasons for this are multifactorial: income, environment and safety, and the intervention was aimed at improving diet and increasing exercise. The interventions are known to be effective and Albarran et al.’s paper was concerned with how Latinas responded to the Promotoras.

The study was qualitative using grounded theory methodology. The women – who were obese – in the study described how they gained new knowledge (e.g. understanding of the link between diet, health and exercise), self-management tools (e.g. pedometers to measure their walking distance) and support emotional support and motivation) from the promotoras. The women explained how the promotoras fostered a sense of comp├únerismo (companionship).

Promotoras in action
Albarran et al. identify only two other similar studies on promotoras, so I was very pleased to see this study in JAN. Clearly, there is an element in the use of promotoras of having people who understand a culture, and who are recognised as understanding that culture, deliver health promotion. The use of such non-professionals raises many questions such as what training they receive and how are they accountable for their work? Is also raises the question: could it work elsewhere?


Albarran CR, Heilemann MV, Koniak-Griffin D (2014) Latinas' perspectives after participating in a lifestyle behaviour intervention program Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12383

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