Online Program

Using a community-based participatory approach to empower and improve health status among African immigrants

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Abi Fapohunda, DrPH, MPH, MS, Public Health Services, FOB Group, LLC, Monroeville, PA
Maria-Theresa C. Okafor,, PhD, MCG, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD
Irene Gathuru, PhD, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Angela F. Ford, PhD, MSW, Black Women's Health Imperative, Black Women's Health Imperative, Washington, DC, DC
Background: African immigrants are a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, with diverse health needs and lifestyles. Little is known about the health profile of this population. Upon arrival in the U.S., African immigrants seem to have a health advantage over their American counterparts and other non-African immigrants. However, this health advantage diminishes with increased duration of residence in the U.S. This decline in health may be linked to Westernization—including a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet and subsequent increased risk for chronic disease. Additional research is needed to identify the health needs and best ways to address these needs.

Objective: To use a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to identify perceived health needs and barriers/enablers to meeting these health needs among African immigrants.

Methods: Community Advisory Committees (CAC) in Pittsburgh, PA (6-members) and Silver Spring, MD (9-members) comprised of African immigrant community leaders convened and met three times over a 1.5-month period to discuss and identify perceived health needs and barriers/enablers to meeting these health needs.

Results: CACs identified chronic disease, mental health, HIV/AIDS, and stress as major health concerns. Shame/secrecy/stigma, cultural factors/spiritual beliefs and employment/immigration status were identified as barriers to health needs; social and faith based community events and social-networking/media outreach were suggested as enablers to meeting health needs.

Conclusion: A CBPR approach is an essential tool for mobilizing and empowering African immigrant communities to identify and address their health needs. Identifying community partners and gatekeepers is instrumental to the success of CBPR in this population.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Describe African immigrants’ perceived health needs Identify enablers to meeting health need among African immigrants Identify barriers to meeting health need among African immigrants

Keyword(s): Community Collaboration, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a consultant epidemiologist with knowledge of diseases and health outcomes. I also contributed to the abstract and I teach graduate-level courses on health disparities and health disparities research methods and interventions. In addition, I participated in the CBPR for this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.