Promotores(as) and Hispanic Workers'Occupational Health in Post-Katrina New Orleans The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOHS) and its National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) have identified Hispanic construction workers, particularly those who are foreign-born and have immigrated recently, as a vulnerable group experiencing disproportionate occupational risks and significant disparities in access to interventions to reduce work-related injuries and illness. Multiple factors, including inadequate training made worse by language and cultural barriers, more dangerous job assignments and other potentially discriminatory hiring practices -- contribute to these disparities. Trained Lay Workers who are knowledgeable about a community - better known as promotores(as) de salud (""""""""health promoters"""""""") in Spanish - have been used nationally and internationally as facilitating agents in """"""""translating"""""""" - both in the cultural and linguistic sense - evidence-based health care and public health interventions. Consistent with NIOSH's Research to Practice Initiative, RAND and Common Ground Health Clinic of New Orleans are partnering to conduct a research project to: 1) Develop and pilot a brief promotor(a) intervention for the Hispanic worker population to improve knowledge and use of preventive behaviors regarding respiratory exposures and other occupational risks, and 2) Explore the role of promotor(a) gender (e.g. male versus female workers for male clients) in the acceptability of the intervention and its effectiveness in transmitting related knowledge and motivating preventive behaviors. A randomized longitudinal controlled trial will be used to evaluate changes in worker's knowledge and use of preventive behaviors as a result of the intervention. The intervention will be developed and piloted by a joint investigator-community end-user team to promote its feasibility and effectiveness. The post-Katrina New Orleans environment - with an almost non-existent language and culturally-competent local public health infrastructure - provides significant opportunities to develop and evaluate innovative interventions targeting the health needs of the large influx of Hispanic workers helping to rebuild the area. The proposed research will not only contribute new knowledge about the effectiveness of promotor(a) interventions, in general, and occupational health promotion and prevention interventions, specifically, but also help address occupational health disparities in this highly vulnerable population. Lessons learned about the effectiveness of the proposed intervention or lack thereof in the challenging New Orleans environment will help inform other occupational health interventions for Hispanic and other vulnerable workers nationwide.

Public Health Relevance

Hispanic construction workers are a vulnerable group experiencing disproportionately greater occupational risks and other disparities than almost any other population in the US workforce. This project will pilot the feasibility and effectiveness of a promotor(a) (lay health worker) intervention to improve knowledge and behaviors of day laborers regarding their occupational risks from construction and clean-up activities post hurricane Katrina. Lessons learned will lend support for expanding and sustaining this approach for occupational health interventions for Hispanic and other vulnerable workers nationwide.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
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Kumar, Lata
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Rand Corporation
Santa Monica
United States
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Díaz Fuentes, Claudia M; Martinez Pantoja, Leonardo; Tarver, Meshawn et al. (2016) Latino immigrant day laborer perceptions of occupational safety and health information preferences. Am J Ind Med 59:476-85