Journal of Community Health

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 435-450

First online:

Heart Disease Education and Prevention Program Targeting Immigrant Latinos: Using Focus Group Responses to Develop Effective Interventions

  • Carmen MorenoAffiliated with
  • , Matilde AlvaradoAffiliated withNational Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • , Hector BalcazarAffiliated withCommunity Nutrition and Public Health, Arizona State University
  • , Claire LaneAffiliated withNHLBI
  • , Eileen NewmanAffiliated withNHLBI
  • , Gloria OrtizAffiliated withR.O.W. Sciences, Inc
  • , Maxine ForrestAffiliated withR.O.W. Sciences, Inc

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Although research has provided considerable knowledge concerning the positive effects of behavioral change on morbidity and mortality from heart disease and related risk factors, some segments of the population have not benefited equitably from this information. In April 1995, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) conducted seven focus groups to determine knowledge and attitudes about heart disease and associated risk factors, identify media usage and preferences, and assess publications usage and preferences among Spanish-speaking Latino immigrants residing in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. This information was gathered to assist in the development of key messages and strategies for the NHLBI Latino Community Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Outreach Initiative, Salud para su Corazón—a heart disease prevention and education campaign. Findings from these focus groups indicate that Latinos may not benefit from heart disease prevention messages developed for the general population because of language and cultural differences. The researchers concluded that health education and disease prevention programs targeting the Latino community should develop educational materials and interventions that address language preferences and cultural values. Furthermore, to be effective, these programs should show people how to make positive behavioral changes based on their current circumstances, while remaining sensitive to the fact that Latino immigrants face major life adjustments and many are still greatly influenced by their country of origin.