Journal of Community Health

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 219–227 | Cite as

Esperanza y Vida: Training Lay Health Advisors and Cancer Survivors to Promote Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening in Latinas

  • Frances G. Saad-Harfouche
  • Lina Jandorf
  • Elizabeth Gage
  • Linda D. Thélémaque
  • Jomary Colón
  • Anabella G. Castillo
  • Michelle Treviño
  • Deborah O. Erwin


The use of lay health advisors (LHAs) to promote community-based health education programs is well documented and is considered an effective way to reach underserved communities. Esperanza y Vida (Hope & Life) is an educational outreach program to increase breast and cervical cancer screening for diverse Latinas. It incorporates Latino LHAs (men and women) and cancer survivor role models, sobrevivientes, in the program delivery. An interactive training program, conducted by bilingual staff across three sites (Little Rock, Arkansas; Buffalo, New York and New York City) included 74 sobrevivientes and LHAs who were recruited and trained. All training attendees completed an initial application assessing socio-demographics, experience and availability as well as, true/false surveys at the beginning (pre-) and end of the training (post-) measuring knowledge levels of breast and cervical cancer health. Data analysis indicated a significant increase of both breast and cervical cancer knowledge for attendees trained as LHAs (pre = 60%; post = 80%; p = 0.000), whereas sobrevivientes had a higher baseline knowledge of breast health (74%), and therefore did not show a significant increase following training (79%). However, sobrevivientes did display a significant increase in cervical cancer knowledge (p = 0.003). These findings demonstrate the impact of training and how LHAs may be recruited at different levels of knowledge and experience and be successfully trained in key program elements. Moreover, results indicate that sobrevivientes may be impacted differently, or require variations in training approaches. This information can be useful in developing and customizing curriculum for future lay health training programs.


Latinas Cancer screening Lay health advisor Health disparities Cancer survivors 



Formative research was supported by Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Foundation Grants #: POP0201290 and POP0503950. The intervention effectiveness study is currently supported by American Cancer Society grant: RSGT-07-021-01-CPPB and funding from the John R. Oishei Foundation of Western New York. The authors acknowledge the assistance of Paula Jones.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frances G. Saad-Harfouche
    • 1
  • Lina Jandorf
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Gage
    • 3
  • Linda D. Thélémaque
    • 2
  • Jomary Colón
    • 1
  • Anabella G. Castillo
    • 2
  • Michelle Treviño
    • 4
  • Deborah O. Erwin
    • 1
  1. 1.Cancer Prevention and Population SciencesRoswell Park Cancer InstituteBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Oncological SciencesMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health ProfessionalsThe State University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  4. 4.Fay W. Boozman College of Public HealthUniversity of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle RockUSA

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