The Madrina Network" Web Portal: A Healthy Weight - Healthy Lifestyle Intervention for Latinas. This Fast Track application addresses a serious health disparity - the crisis of obesity among Latinas in the United States and the dire need of a timely and culturally and linguistically appropriate weight loss intervention. This innovative research grant is in direct response to NCI's goals to "improve health communications by raising public awareness, overcome barriers of effective communication in the media and expand health communications research," as well as addressing "inadequate collaborative infrastructures to actuate positive dietary changes" a specific barrier that NCI stated needed to be addressed in culturally diverse populations. The inspiration for this innovative digital health product and approach to weight health among Latinas comes from the apparent failure of existing weight loss interventions to address the needs of Latinas, the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate solutions to the problem, the rapid increase of Latina use of the Internet, the documented need for appropriate content for Latinas searching for health information on- line, the benefits of traditional Latina-centered social networks, and the research that demonstrates the effectiveness of peer support to achieve health-related behavior changes.
The Specific Aims for Phase I are to evaluate, via focus group interviews conducted with Latinas in Albuquerque, the feasibility, use-ability, acceptability, audience engagement, and knowledge imparting capabilities of "La Madrina Network" Web Portal and Game-Based Curriculum. In Phase II, we will apply Phase I findings and fully develop the [Madrina Network] intervention and conduct a randomized trial. The purpose of the Phase II study is to assess, if after six months of participation in Web- based Madrina Network" Web Portal and Game-Based Curriculum, the experimental group of Latinas [over the age of 18, with a BMI of 28-32, who use the internet to find health information] demonstrates increased knowledge, change in attitude and change in behaviors related to weight loss, as compared to the control group. Given the urgency of the problem and the obvious need for this kind of intervention, a Fast Track SBIR is the most appropriate and timely route to take.
This project is significant, relevant and important to cancer prevention and public health because obesity has reached crisis proportions among Latinas [and it represents a health disparity that needs to be addressed in a culturally tailored and linguistically competent manner.] According to the Office of Minority Health 78% of Latinas are overweight or obese. This grant application is in direct response to NCI's goals to improve health communications by raising public awareness, overcome barriers of effective communication in the media and expand health communications research, as well as addressing inadequate collaborative infrastructures to actuate positive dietary changes a specific barrier that NCI stated needed to be addressed in culturally diverse populations. ACMA Social Marketing, a multicultural health communications firm is collaborating with LCF Research, a nationally recognized, not-for-profit organization that conducts health services research and implements and evaluates community-based improvements in health and health care, and Lovelace Health Plan, an HMO in Albuquerque, New Mexico to assess the effectiveness of The Madrina Network Web Portal, and fotonovela game-based curriculum for the purpose of addressing obesity disparities among Latinas. This work will contribute to the body of research related to using digital education to reach out to Latinas, one of the fastest growing consumers of the internet, social media and Smartphones. Given the documented need for cancer prevention information among Latinas, [the obesity disparities among Latinas] and the recent and on-going increase in Latina use of digital media, The Madrina Network Web Portal is timely and necessary and we feel confident that it will meet with great success.