UTHealth researchers train promotoras to combine mobile technology, cancer prevention messages for Hispanics

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HOUSTON – (Sept. 21, 2011) – In an effort to increase cancer prevention education in the Hispanic population, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) will use cutting-edge mobile technology to provide information that encourages nutritious eating and physical activity.

Leading the project is Belinda Reininger, Dr.PH., associate professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus, part of UTHealth.

“The goal of this project is to see how this technology can be used and to what extent we can impact behavior change related to cancer and obesity in our audience,” said Reininger, who will work with trained community health workers, or promotoras, to disseminate messages focusing on preventive behaviors for colorectal and breast cancer.

Reininger and colleagues were recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which will help fund the training of the promotoras in five Texas counties where health needs are high. Those counties are Webb, Galveston, Nueces, Hidalgo and Cameron.

“We have excellent partners in these counties who are implementing innovative prevention strategies reaching low-income Hispanic populations,” Reininger said. The School of Public Health has been working with promotoras since 2003 to provide health education to communities throughout Texas.

Intel’s World Ahead Program is donating Intel-powered convertible classmate PCs and providing technical support to the project team. Reininger said the donation and support will facilitate promotoras in delivering informative presentations at more personalized home visits. “Intel is thrilled to support the efforts to increase health education,” said Mike Gann, director of Intel’s World Ahead Healthcare Program.

Beginning this month, promotoras will learn the Department of State Health Services certified curriculum, Tu Salud, Si Cuenta! (Your Health Matters), which was developed by Reininger and Nancy Crider, Dr.PH., program manager for the Texas Public Health Training Center at UTHealth.

UTHealth collaborators on this project include Crider; Maria Fernandez, Ph.D., associate professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences; and Zhongxue Chen, Ph.D, assistant professor of clinical & translational sciences .

UTHealth: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), the most comprehensive academic health system in The University of Texas System and the U.S. Gulf Coast region, is home to schools of biomedical informatics, biomedical sciences, dentistry, medicine, nursing and public health. It also includes a psychiatric hospital, multiple institutes and centers, a growing network of clinics, and outreach programs in education and care throughout the region. The university’s primary teaching hospitals include Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital. Founded in 1972, its faculty, staff and students are committed to delivering innovative solutions that create the best hope for a healthier future.

About CPRIT: In 2007, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment establishing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and dedicating up to $3 billion to invest in groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. Passionately committed to the war on cancer, CPRIT focuses on expediting the innovation and commercialization of cancer research – in turn increasing the potential for a medical or scientific breakthrough – and enhancing access to evidence-based prevention programs and services. CPRIT accepts applications from Texas-based public and private entities for grants to support a wide variety of cancer-related research projects and for the delivery of cancer prevention programs and services. More information about CPRIT is available at www.cprit.state.tx.us.

Jade Waddy
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030