Community Science has been working with various individuals from community-based organizations and Universities to assemble innovative strategies that have the potential to maximize the reach and effectiveness of delivering key health messages to underserved and difficult-to-reach populations (e.g., those who reside in isolated communities, have limited English proficiency, or lack knowledge of the U.S. health system). For this project, staff issued a request for proposals which resulted in 46 applications. Of those who applied, a total of ten practices were selected and are included in an upcoming publication that features 10 innovative strategies designed to address key challenges to delivering health literacy interventions to vulnerable populations in traditionally underserved communities across the country.
The promising strategies featured in the Toolkit include: 1) using theatre to deliver procedures for enrolling in and using health insurance; 2) training adolescents to identify credible on-line health information and training their elders; 3) using faith-based networks to reach and educate African American women and girls on breast cancer prevention; 4) procedures for developing and disseminating age-appropriate soap opera style health content via the web (webnovelas); 5) using a web platform to teach participants how to leverage technology to improve their health; 6) a bingo game that quizzes older adults on nutrition choices; 7) distributing key health messages in comic strip format via community newspapers; 8) interactive games that teach hand washing practices and other healthy behaviors to children; 9) using culture-appropriate animated videos to deliver health information; and 10) developing protocols for hiring health promoters from recently arrived immigrant groups. The strategies featured in the Toolkit offer practical and cost-effective ideas that could assist in reaching the most vulnerable, and if implemented and scaled, could ultimately contribute to decreasing disparities in health literacy and health disparities in the United States.