Preferences Among Immigrant Hispanic Women for Written Educational Materials Regarding Upper Respiratory Infections

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The need for culturally appropriate health education materials for Hispanic populations has been widely recognized, and Spanish-language materials are available through a number of private and governmental organizations. We convened two focus groups to elucidate preferences regarding how health-related messages are obtained and to identify which educational materials available in Spanish were preferred by 26 recently immigrated Hispanic homemakers who had received 15 different bimonthly written documents as part of a community-based clinical trial to prevent household transmission of colds and influenza. Participants gave three primary reasons for volunteering to participate in the study: to provide better care for their children (96.2%, 25/26), to get information (96.2%, 25/26), and to get free products (47.1%, 8/17). Their primary sources of health-related information were relatives and friends (42.9%, 6/14), clinicians (35.7%, 5/14), mass media (14.3%, 2/14) or the emergency room (7.1%, 1/14); none mentioned the internet. Materials using either a question and answer or true/false format were clearly preferred, even when other options were more colorful or had lower reading levels. Printed educational materials may be ineffective unless they include a more systematic assessment of the user's perceived needs for the information as well as consideration of format. In this population, a question and answer or true/false format and materials that could be shared with their children were greatly preferred.

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