Objective: To examine diffusion of breast and cervical cancer screening information through a community health advisor program targeting Latino women of low socioeconomic level and low level of acculturation in San Diego, California.
Method: Seventeen community health advisors ("consejeras") were recruited and trained to conduct educational group sessions. Each consejera recruited peers from the community to participate in the 12 sequential weekly sessions (i.e., primary participants). In addition, each of the primary participants identified up to two friends and/or family members (i.e., "learning partners") with whom they intended to share the cancer education information received. Pretest and posttest telephone surveys were conducted between 1996 and 1997. A total of 311 primary participants completed the pretest and 285 the posttest. Among the learning partners, 269 completed the pretest and 222 the posttest.
Results: Knowledge about breast and cervical cancer and self-reported use of screening tests increased among primary participants and learning partners. However, the increase was not statistically significant in mammography screening among participants 40 years old or older. Overall, increases in knowledge were more pronounced among primary participants when compared to learning partners.
Conclusion: The utilization of the learning partner model represents a promising diffusion tool to enhance cancer early detection programs relying on community health advisors.