Introduction: Hispanics in the United States have disproportionately high rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes and poorer access to preventive health services. Healthy Fit uses community health workers to extend public health department infrastructure and address Hispanic health disparities related to cardiovascular disease and access to preventive health services. We evaluated the effectiveness of Healthy Fit in 1) reaching Hispanic Americans facing health disparities, and 2) helping participants access preventive health services and make behavior changes to improve heart health.
Methods: Community health workers recruited a sample of predominantly low-income Hispanic immigrant participants (N = 514). Following a health screening, participants received vouchers for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening, and received vaccinations as needed for influenza, pneumonia, and human papillomavirus. Participants who were overweight or had high blood pressure received heart health fotonovelas and referrals to community-based exercise activities. Community health workers completed follow-up phone calls at 1, 3, and 6 months after the health screening to track participant uptake on the referrals and encourage follow-through.
Results: Participants faced health disparities related to obesity and screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer. Postintervention completion rates for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening were 54%, 43%, and 32%, respectively, among participants who received a voucher and follow-up phone call. Among participants with follow-up data who were overweight or had high blood pressure, 70% read the fotonovela, 66% completed 1 or more heart health activities in the fotonovela, 21% attended 1 or more community-based exercise activities, and 79% took up some other exercise on their own.
Conclusion: Healthy Fit is a feasible and low-cost strategy for addressing Hispanic health disparities related to cancer and cardiovascular disease.