New research from the University of Cincinnati examines barriers as well as helpful ones in preventing and treating COVID-19 in Latinx families in Cincinnati.
The study, in collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is funded by the Center for Clinical & Translational Science & Training.
The researchers identified key barriers, including food insecurity, employment, housing and immigration. Key enablers included having reliable messengers of health-related information.
Latinx adults 18 and older responded to 255 quantitative surveys and 17 qualitative surveys during the summer of 2020.
“We went to a few different agencies and places where the community already visits and feels safe,” says Shaina Horner, clinical research coordinator in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at UC College of Medicine. and community research partner. for the study.
These locations included the Cincinnati-area nonprofit organizations Su Casa Hispanic Center and Santa Maria Community Services, both of which help Latinx families with educational, financial and health goals. The researchers also visited an apartment complex in a suburb of Cincinnati, as well as a mobile home park in northern Kentucky with a large Latinx population.
“We started with paper surveys that we filled out for participants using their responses due to language barriers. Literacy levels can be a barrier when we gather information,” says Horner, who is fluent in Spanish. “If you have a first or second grade education, a big piece of paper with a ton of questions can feel a bit overwhelming and sometimes the information itself can feel overwhelming.
“If I have a conversation with someone and they don’t understand the question, we can talk about it whereas if they see it on paper and they don’t understand, they might not. don’t ask,” Horner said.
After completing the quantitative surveys, Horner conducted 17 qualitative interviews with interested participants for a better understanding of their experiences and concerns. These surveys and interviews were then coded so that the researchers could note the themes.
What Horner and the research team began to see from the surveys and conversations was that people were suffering from food instability and housing instability. There was a great fear of losing jobs. For those without papers, there was the added fear of asking for masks or gloves in the workplace thinking it might put them at risk.
“We did not seek to do any health education, we were only there to understand people’s points of view. It was really good at that level because we got a lot of information that people might not have said if they felt like we were trying to convince them of something,” says Horner.
“We were also trying to find out where they were getting their information about COVID-19 from, because there is a lot of information and misinformation about COVID. The sources of information that people use are really important.
The study found that people received information from a wide variety of sources, including social media, friends and family, church leaders and news outlets, especially Spanish radio. Some got information from health care providers, but it often came from pediatricians when they took their children to appointments, not because they checked directly on their own.
“I think it’s important to continue educating the community,” says Horner. “UC and UC Health have done some of that work with the videos we’ve done around COVID. Once the Moderna vaccine was approved, we began releasing information about what to expect when getting the vaccine or the difference between a reaction to the vaccine and symptoms of the disease.
Horner describes these issues as a public health issue.
“How do we intervene in communities where we see these disparities in a way that is really going to impact the health of those communities?” she says.
Horner believes that interventions require collaboration and should be community-led. “You have to know why some people have difficulty accessing care. Let’s try to remove some of these obstacles. Sometimes this means bringing the mobile health unit to their community due to transportation issues. Sometimes it means that something in our system needs to change because people are afraid to seek treatment or are not coming because of systemic barriers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for health systems to recognize these public health disparities and make changes now that will improve access to care and education for at-risk populations during future public health emergencies, Horner said.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of press releases posted on EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.