Health information Hispanic outreach in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley

Virginia M Bowden, Frederick B Wood, Debra G Warner, Cynthia A Olney, Evelyn R Olivier, Elliot R Siegel
Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA 2006, 94 (2): 180-9

PURPOSE: This paper provides an overview of the two-year Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley Health Information Hispanic Outreach (HI HO) project. The project included a needs assessment, four pilot projects, and focus groups on the use of MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en español. The needs assessment included a survey of physicians' information usage and a review of the circuit librarian program that had been established in 1989. The pilot projects were located at a high school, a rural health clinic, an urban health clinic, and a community center. Diffusion of innovation theory provided a framework for interpreting the results of the pilot projects.

METHODS: The survey of physicians' information usage partially replicated a similar 1990 survey. The review of the circuit librarian program included usage statistics, interviews of administrators, and a survey of participants. Pilot project methodology varied by site. At the high school, four students were trained to instruct their peers in the use of MedlinePlus. At the two clinics, a computer workstation was installed for patients to access MedlinePlus. At the community center, staff were trained to use MedlinePlus en español to train community residents. Project evaluation included surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Indicators of success included increased level of consumer use of MedlinePlus, reports by key informants and consumers of how MedlinePlus was used, reports about training, and development of self-sustaining activity.

RESULTS: The physician survey documented usage of health information resources in 2002 compared to 1990. The review of the circuit librarian program documented the change in program usage between 1989 and 2003. The pilot project at the high school was the most successful of the four pilot projects in introducing MedlinePlus to a large number of people, followed by the community center project. In the high school and community center projects, the participating institutions had reinforcing educational missions and paid staff who were highly motivated to achieve the project goals. The computer workstations projects at the two clinics were less successful, due in part to limited staff commitment and conflicting priorities.

CONCLUSIONS: The HI HO project tested methods of reaching the Hispanic community in the Lower Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. The four HI HO pilot projects varied in achieving their stated objectives. But taken as a whole, the HI HO project significantly contributed to a better understanding of health information outreach to the Hispanic community, knowledge that should be useful to others with similar outreach activities.

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