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WMJ. 2009 Aug;108(5):259-62.

Using lay health advisors to promote breast and cervical cancer screening among Latinas: a review.

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Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 610 Walnut St, 605 WARF, Madison, WI 53726-2397, USA.



Breast and cervical cancer (BCC) represent leading causes of morbidity and mortality among Latinas. The use of lay health advisors (LHAs) represents a promising approach for health promotion among underserved and minority populations.


This study reviews the evidence regarding the effectiveness of LHA-based interventions to promote BCC screening among Latinas.


A search was conducted using the PubMed online electronic database. The search included studies published through August 2008. Study abstracts were reviewed to select intervention studies that met our inclusion criteria. References in selected articles were also reviewed for inclusion in the review. Of 134 articles identified, 14 met the selection criteria. The main characteristics and results of each study were extracted using a pre-established template.


Most studies were conducted in the west or southwest regions of the United States. Few studies were guided by health behavior theory. Most studies used weak methodological designs, lacked a comparison group, and/or failed to collect both pretest and post-test data. Only 2 studies found evidence of effectiveness.


More intervention research guided by health behavior theory and using rigorous methods is needed to elucidate the potential effectiveness of LHA interventions to promote BCC screening among Latinas.

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