Objective: To describe the short-term impact of the intervention known as Por La Vida (PLV) on cancer screening for Latinas in San Diego, California.
Methods: Thirty-six lay community workers (consejeras) were recruited and trained to conduct educational group sessions. Each consejera recruited approximately 14 peers from the community to participate in the program. The consejeras were randomly assigned to either a twelve-week cancer screening intervention group or a control group in which they participated in an equally engaging program entitled "Community Living Skills." Pre- and post-intervention self-report information was obtained from project participants on the use of cancer screening examinations. Outcome measures were changes in the percentages of women who had breast and cervical cancer screening test within the past year before and after the intervention occurred. Experimental and control groups were compared using t-tests. Analyses were conducted using both consejeras and participants as the unit of analysis.
Results: The increase in the use of the cancer screening test was higher in the PLV cancer intervention group in comparison to women in the community living skills control group.
Conclusions: Key to the PLV intervention model is the identification of natural helpers in the Latino community and their subsequent training in intervention based on social learning theory using culturally appropriate educational materials. The model is an effective and viable approach for increasing the use of cancer screening tests in Latinas of low socioeconomic level and low level of acculturation.