Objective: The objective of this research was to examine the effectiveness of a participatory prenatal education program for low-income Latinas. Lay health educators facilitated groups using photonovels and experiential learning activities.
Methods: We used a community-based participatory research approach with a mixed method evaluation. Data included participant pre- and post-test surveys, focus groups, and a medical record review of participant outcomes and a control-match group who received usual care.
Results: Participants (n=43) showed a significant increase in their knowledge of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding (P < .001) and a significant increase in confidence at being able to navigate their pregnancies, care for themselves and their babies, and interact with health professionals (P ≤ .05). They reported an increase in social support, a deeper understanding of information from medical providers, greater engagement, and behavior changes. There were no statistically significant differences in health outcomes between the participants and the control group.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that 1) a participatory prenatal education program can be an effective way to foster health literacy and empowerment among low-income Latinas; and 2) trained lay educators can be effective group facilitators. The intervention's tripartite approach offers a vehicle for health professionals to partner with Latino communities to promote active participation and capacity building for health and change. This strategy could be adapted and tested with other topics and communities.
Keywords: Hispanic/Latino; Prenatal; community-based participatory research; empowerment; equity; health literacy; healthcare disparities; lay health educators; participatory education; photonovels.