Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, Molly Hoisington, Alexander Agudelo Orozco, Dalmina Arias, Claudia Garcia, Kayla Smith, Briana Bonner; Benefits of a Culturally Tailored Health Promotion Program for Latino Youth With Disabilities and Their Families. Am J Occup Ther 2016;70(5):7005180080. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.021949
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
Little research is available about youth with disabilities, who experience numerous inequalities in health outcomes compared with youth without disabilities. Youth with disabilities experience many environmental and attitudinal barriers in maintaining healthy lifestyles, which put them at risk for obesity. Strong evidence has suggested that obesity rates are higher among youth with disabilities than among their nondisabled peers. The purpose of this study was to implement and examine the benefits of a culturally tailored healthy lifestyles program for Latino youth with disabilities and their families. Several cultural adaptations were made to align with the target population’s cultural norms. Seventeen Latino families identified 67 behaviors they wanted to change or new habits they wanted to establish. The postassessment data showed that several family routines improved, and families reported engaging in many of the healthy habits they had identified for themselves. Implications of culturally appropriate and accessible programming are discussed.
Practitioners should consider partnering with bilingual staff and other professionals to deliver the intervention in Spanish and/or bilingually, given that younger generations might prefer English whereas parents might prefer Spanish. In this project, all sessions were conducted in Spanish.
Practitioners are encouraged to work collaboratively with parents to choose health promotion activities that are important to them. For instance, many Latinos prefer dancing as a type of physical activity. Dancing is a strong part of the Latino culture (Marquez, Bustamante, Aguiñaga, & Hernandez, 2015).
Practitioners need to be aware of cultural preferences in foods, games, and ways of interacting and delivering information to working-class Latino immigrant families. This awareness was imperative to the success of this intervention. For instance, occupational therapists played a critical role in creating interactive, hands-on sessions. Slide presentations with handouts requiring extensive writing and reading would have been inaccessible for this population. Interventions must be matched to the cultural norms and literacy levels of the target group (Mier, Ory, & Medina, 2010; Suarez-Balcazar et al., 2013) to optimize effectiveness and participants’ satisfaction.
Practitioners also need to engage with diverse communities to tailor interventions to meet their needs by listening to views and concerns of families and youth with disabilities from minority backgrounds. More research is needed on strategies to make culturally relevant interventions sustainable in the community. Occupational therapy practitioners designing occupation-focused interventions to prevent obesity and promote health among minority youth with disabilities need to consider the cultural values of the child and use a family-centered approach to implementation. Practitioners should consider discussing potential adaptations with families and youth with disabilities as well as with paraprofessionals and agency staff who have experience working with Latino families and youth with disabilities.
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