Promotoras as Data Collectors in a Large Study of Physical Activity in Parks

Published in: Health Promotion Practice, 2015

Posted on RAND.org on February 10, 2015

by Terry Marsh, Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Muriel Rios, Deborah Cohen

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There is a large literature on promotores' involvement in health promotion and a smaller literature on their roles in data collection, most often among predominantly Latino populations. But the extent to which promotores can be successful as the primary data collectors across racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods is less well documented. In a study of physical activity in 50 urban neighborhood parks, we found that a team of Spanish/English bilingual promotoras (female promotores) successfully implemented a direct observation protocol in all participant neighborhoods and achieved high interrater reliability (.80-.98). Overall, they were also effective in administering surveys to park users and residents across the racially/ethnically diverse neighborhoods. The promotoras brought to the project important language skills and cultural sensitivity, surveying experience, and familiarity with human subjects and confidentiality issues. Their extensive field experience gained over the course of a long-term collaborative effort helped improve survey and observation protocols. The promotoras reported gaining professional skills, which can strengthen their contributions to other projects. The promotoras were accustomed to being a source of information, and collecting rather than providing information was challenging for some and had to be addressed in order to avoid contamination across study groups.

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